(urth) OT: French translations

Gwern Branwen gwern0 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 5 09:22:18 PDT 2009

On Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 9:49 AM, Jerry Friedman<jerry_friedman at yahoo.com> wrote:
> --- On Wed, 8/5/09, gwern0 at gmail.com <gwern0 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi everyone. This is a rather
>> off-topic request, but bear with me. I'm desultorily
>> learning myself some French this summer, and I've decided
>> that since I'm only really interested in reading French (and
>> not so much in speaking or writing it), that the best thing
>> to do would be to simply translate some large French work
>> into English and learn as I go*.
> Si tu m'avais posé la question, je t'aurais dit que c'est
> complètement fou.  Mais tu te connais á toi-même, et moi
> je ne te connais pas.

Ouch. It seemed like a good idea to me - if I want to read French, then the logical direction is French->English, not vice-versa....

> I don't know any, but have you tried searching for "Gene
> Wolfe" on French-language pages (using Google Advanced
> Search, for example)?  Or searching http://www.amazon.fr/ ?

Amazon has a very impressive selection of Wolfe works - I was expecting to see Book of the New Sun at most, but I see Fifth Head of Cerberus, New Sun, Long Sun, Wizard-Knight, The Island of Doctor Death (strangely, it's just 'L'île du docteur Mort et autres histoires'. Maybe the publisher didn't get the joke.), the Book of Days, Peace... But same objection as with Brunians.

> I suppose a French text on this subject is unlikely to be
> at a basic level, though.
> For non-Wolfe pages, see
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Articles_needing_translation_from_French_Wikipedia
> If you decide to do that, you'll also want to read
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:TRANSLATION
> Wikipedia is nice for this (and likewise for practicing
> writing in a foreign language, for those who want to do
> that) because you often get corrected.

...I feel very foolish now. Here I am, 5-6 years of Wikipedia editing, and my one thought was 'well, I don't want English->French, so anything Wikipedia (en->fr) is out' - never once thinking that there might be need of the other direction.

(Short articles aren't very good for testing my program, but that was the most minor of my desiderata, so no point carping about it.)

> I know people who have gotten good results from a different
> strategy for learning a foreign language--read a book in
> that language that they know well in their own.  If you
> choose TBotNS, you can learn the French for quite common
> words such as "bordereau".
> Jerry Friedman

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