Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wrong définition - Définition érronée

Advertising copy is a challenge to translate, especially when one realizes that the writer has been blindsided by his perception of a meaning, not the customary meaning.

A recent example was an automotive ½ page ad purporting to extol the merits of one brand of car versus another. The text said:

"By Definition, An Accord is A Compromise"

Upon reading this heading , my immediate reaction was to ascertain that the word accord had indeed this meaning. Here is what I found:

From the WordWeb:
1. Harmony of people’s opinion or actions or characters
2. Concurrenc of opinion
3. A written agreement between two states or sovereigns
4. Sympathetic compatibility
5. proper relationship or proportion; harmony.
6. a harmonious union of sounds, colors, etc.
7. consent or concurrence of opinions or wills; agreement.
8. an international agreement; settlement of questions outstanding among nations.

Main Entry: 2accord
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French acord, from acorder
Date: 14th century
1 a : agreement, conformity b : a formal reaching of agreement : compact, treaty
2 : balanced interrelationship : harmony
3 obsolete : assent
4 : voluntary or spontaneous impulse to act

Dictionary Babylon
1. harmony of people's opinions or actions or characters; "the two parties were in agreement"
(synonym) agreement
(hypernym) harmony, concord, concordance
(hyponym) community, community of interests
2. concurrence of opinion; "we are in accord with your proposal"
(synonym) conformity, accordance
(hypernym) agreement
3. a written agreement between two states or sovereigns
(synonym) treaty, pact
(hypernym) written agreement
(hyponym) alliance
4. sympathetic compatibility
(synonym) rapport
(hypernym) compatibility
The Wordnetweb from Princeton University gives:
• agreement: harmony of people's opinions or actions or characters; "the two parties were in agreement"
• concurrence of opinion; "we are in accord with your proposal"
• harmonize: go together; "The colors don't harmonize"; "Their ideas concorded"
• treaty: a written agreement between two states or sovereigns
• allow to have; "grant a privilege"
• sympathetic compatibility

In :

1. Agreement; harmony: act in accord with university policies.
2. A settlement or compromise of conflicting opinions.
3. A settlement of points at issue between nations.
4. Spontaneous or voluntary desire to take a certain action: The children returned on their own accord. He confessed of his own accord.

This appears to be the source of the meaning that the advertiser used in the ad.
On the French side, where the word Accord exists as well, we find:

1. État resultant d’une manière commune de sentir, de penser, d’agir, entre plusieurs personnes.
2. État résultat de la convenance qui existe entre plusieurs choses.

Dictionnaire Myriade – ProLexis.

Encyclopédie Linternaute :
accord, nom masculin
Sens 1 Entente entre personnes résultant de leur conformité de sentiments. Synonyme accommodement Anglais agreement

Sens 2 Acceptation, permission. Ex Le supérieur a donné son accord. Synonyme acceptation Anglais consent

Sens 3 Convention, arrangement formalisé entre personnes ou entités. Ex Un accord économique. Synonyme pacte Anglais agreement

Sens 4 Harmonie, concordance entre des choses. Synonyme adéquation Anglais agreement
Interestingly enough, this last source provides an English equivalent – agreement.

We appear to be very far from the word compromise. What do you think?

By the way, is criticizing your opponent the best way to emphasize your product?
Dénigrer le produit du concurrent ne donne pas nécessairement un avantage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The translation of marketing material is a very complex field of specialization, because you have to translate the ideas instead of words, and that's something we cannot get sometimes: what the author meant by writing a phrase.

We also deal with very interesting translation issues and tips in this blog:

Best regards,