September Termstorm

Hosted by the ITI French Network

Written by Alison Hill Campbell

I was looking forward to taking part in the second FrenchNet termstorm, since I’d proposed my personal bugbear term “acteur” for discussion and it had been chosen. Having tackled it the day before in revision club, I was prepared to accept that maybe “stakeholders” wasn’t such a bad choice, but up to now I’d been generally going for a very woolly “those involved”. However, I hadn’t even considered the idea of switching up the noun for a verb such as “getting involved in” or“participating in”, which could certainly sound more idiomatic in some contexts. Bouncing ideas off other translators was a great way to unpack these kinds of solutions.

During the session, we split into three breakout groups for a twenty-minute discussion, after which we were mixed twice more for two further discussions. This meant everyone had the opportunity to discuss with a range of different people, and enjoy reinforcing or opposing perspectives. I found my confidence to contribute increased as the event went on, and hopefully my ideas were in some way as beneficial to others as theirs were to me. In my first breakout group we had a French informant, who was very helpful with examples of French collocations of “acteurs”. Native French speakers were in the minority in the session, and to avoid them getting a raw deal I believe they had a French-only break out room at one point, which seemed to be much appreciated.

I hadn’t prepared any ideas for translating the English terms (“community”, “insight”) into French, not wanting to presume to make a suggestion that wasn’t in my target language. However, others had approached this by searching translation memories for times they had used the English term and which French word they had been translating. I thought this was an excellent strategy and would definitely try this next time. It turned out to be very fruitful to think in the opposite direction, and ask the question “which terms might I translate with community?”. In turn, it also offered me terms which I had struggled with that I could in future consider translating as “community”, such as “territoire”. Context-dependent of course!

In a mind-blowing turn of events, it was at one point suggested that “community” could be a potential translation for “acteurs”! A simple example came to me afterwards: could “les acteurs médicaux” be translated as “the medical community”? A stretch, perhaps, but worth considering.

All in all, this was such a stimulating lunchtime event that even my cat jumped up and wanted to get involved at the end! I’ll reiterate Alannah and Holly’s call for more French natives to join in next time – after all, the more participants (acteurs?), the more insightful the community!