Thursday, May 31, 2007

Challenge/Powerpoint/De nouveaux sommets

A recent translation of a presentation prompted me to describe some aspects of this type of work, of which a unilingual person may not be aware. A conversation with the client revealed that the presentation might be presented in English but with the French version projected at the same time so that the participants (mostly French-speakers) would be able to follow.

Les diapositives anglaises étaient bien remplies, donc pas question de traduire textu sans rallonger la présentation. Il a donc fallu condenser pour laisser l’essentiel et retirer le bla-bla-bla.

The most effective way to translate such a document is to overwrite the English with French, not disturbing the layout and the fonts. Because French is 15 to 30% longer, some wording became hidden by the clip art illustrations. To make the French visible, I had to either shrink or move the illustrations so that they would not interfere.

Certaines traductions de titres étaient trop longues – j’ai les modifier et dans certains diminuer la police pour les faire entrer dans l’espace prévu.

A lengthy listing of participants included Canadian national organizations which have an official French title. I had to research their official names on the Internet and insert the new names in alphabetical order in the listing.

A chart showing a process used the words Good and Bad as legends – which of course did not allow enough space for the French – Looking outside the box, I decided to use emoticons: :-) and :-(

The spell-checking was carried out twice: first, I displayed the presentation in Outline view and copied the text unto a Word document. I then used my faithful ProLexis to carry out an extensive grammatical and spelling checks. Then I selected the whole PPT text (in Outline view), went into the Tool menu , checked language and chose French and carried out the second spell check.

L’impression finale de la présentation, en format “Handout”, m’a permis de voir la façon dont les diapos se suivent. La projection, en version Slide show, donna une vue d’ensemble.

Dave Paradi, a fellow Canadian has been sending me in the last few years his informative newsletter on ¨PowerPoint”. I have also used his book “Guide to PowerPoint” extensively. I would recommend it to any English PPT writer and to any translator.

Translation of this nature is akin to a pyramid which has to be deconstructed into its component pieces and then reassembled into its French equivalents. That is the reason I often remind my clients of a statement I borrowed from a friend and colleague of mine, Pete Peters, who worked in Quality Control at General Motors:

"Quality is never an accident: it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives."

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