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portant information about the military art and modes of fighting in ancient, middle-age, and modern times. Finally, all the extracts contained in this volume are essentially fitted to improve the feelings, as well as the understanding, of young people.
One word more. The superiority of a work of this nature, likewise over books containing merely detached sentences, is unquestionable, with regard to the purpose of connected composition: those persons who use exclusively the latter kind of books can pretend to nothing higher than rambling tasteless effusions. I also entirely agree with a well-known confrère of mine in London, that “the pupil will gain much more real knowledge by translating into French the peculiar expressions of genuine English, than by retranslating English versions into the original French.”
With these general observations, I now leave this work to the appreciation of the judicious friends of education.
F. E. A. G.
BRIGHTON, January, 1858.
PRACTICAL HINTS TO TRANSLATORS.
My young readers must not suppose that I am going to give them here a particular secret for a perfect translation. The method of translating perfectly is too easy of explanation to require many words : it consists simply in being thoroughly acquainted with the language from which and that into which we translate. This every one knows well enough, without being told. I intend merely to give directions to the student, by means of which he will be enabled to make the most of his acquired knowledge—whatever degree it may have reached, -so as to produce a better translation than he could have done with the same amount of knowledge, but if left to his own unassisted efforts to turn it to account.
in every translation, as in every composition in any single language, two things to be considered, namely, words, separately,
which represent simple ideas, and phrases, or the association of the words into a more or less complex form of thought.
First, as to “words.” So far as the generality of words are concerned, your safest guide will be a dictionary in which the French words corresponding to the English are given accurately; The most accurate and complete dictionary of the English and French languages now in existence, is, I hardly need say it, that of Dr. Spiers. But what I should wish particularly to direct your attention to, is, the danger of being misled, -unless you consult your dictionary every time you are not positively certain of your own knowledge, -by the great likeness of many French and English words which, though having a similar origin, differ, sometimes rather widely, in their meaning. For instance :Emphase is used, in the English sense of 'emphasis,' only as a rhetorical term; in ordinary language it is taken in a bad sense, and means 'bombast. Altération signifies 'alteration' only from good to bad, whilst changement is the word that corresponds to 'alteration’ in its general acceptation. Métropole does not answer to metropolis' (see page 69, note 13, of this volume, for a full explanation).
· Concurrence'is, in French, concours, or coopération, and concurrence means 'competition'. Editor' (of a
newspaper) is, in French, rédacteur, whilst éditeur is the name for a * publisher;' the same difference is observable in libraire, bookseller,' and bibliothécaire, librarian ;' librairie, "bookseller's shop,' and bibliothèque, library;' tuteur, 'guardian,' and precepteur, 'tutor,' &c. In the course of my work I have noticed others, in their proper place. I need not make more than a passing allusion to those words the orthography only of which is slightly different (ex., sollicitude, solicitude, littérature, 'literature, &c.); but this particularity is worth alluding to, as the difference, being slight, is apt, on that very account, not to be thought of or noticed, and mistakes with regard to such words are the more easily and naturally made.
Again, one English word only may be used both in a proper and in a figurative sense, whilst in French, there will often be two words to correspond to it, one for the proper and the other for the figurative sense. The well-known story of Young, the author of the Night Thoughts, writing, with the best intentions, a somewhat unpalatable compliment, in French, to Fénelon, the author of Télémaque, and archbishop of Cambrai, is a striking example of the errors into which a neglect of this distinction between the various acceptations of a word will often lead even persons accustomed to write—and to write well-in their native tongue, when they attempt to express themselves in a foreign language.
A similar distinction must be made between a word as applied to persons, and as applied to things : thus, une personne économe, 'an economical person, and un procédé économique, “an economical process.'
In conclusion, be careful in the use of the words which you happen to know, or which you find in your dictionary, and always begin by ascertaining whether they do entirely correspond to the English words in the particular instance under your consideration.
I have treated of words, first, because, in one sense, they claim priority over phrases, of which they are the constituent elements. But you should, however, not lose sight of this point, namely, that the first thing to be done, when translating an expression, is to consider whether the whole expression has not, in French, another turn, instead of beginning at once to translate, individually, the words of which it is composed.
Next, as to “phrases.” Phrases exhibit a more decided stamp of peculiarity than words do, even in those languages containing alike much of the Latin and Greek elements. I am not speaking of the grammatical construction alone, but more especially of the peculiar shape, independently of grammatical rules, -of the idioms
(1) The details of this may be found in the Preface to Dr. Spiers' Dictionary.
or idiomatic turns, which the same thought will very
often assume in different languages. The influence of climate, the habits of a people, and other causes, operate powerfully, and with dissimilar effects, in every country, on the manner of thinking of its inhabitants, and consequently on their manner of expression, just as they produce a variety in the character and degrees of their passions and feelings, and a difference in their views, political institutions, &c., in comparison with the inhabitants of other countries.
These peculiarities are not to be reduced to fixed rules, though their operating causes, in many individual instances, may be traced to some extent by the philosophic observer. “ Custom is," at any rate," the legislator of languages," as the adage goes, and we must take custom as we find it. The consequence is, that by practice alone and constant practice-can you obtain a positive knowledge of what is French and of what is not. Yet, with tolerable practice, joined to quickness of understanding, not only may you sometimes fairly conjecture, approximatively, for want of better means of information, whether an English expression, translated literally, is not either French at all or good French, but you may also be able to turn it into that language yourself and not be very far from the mark. Dictionaries do not always give a whole phrase; they are obliged by their restricted space, to confine themselves to giving only those ready-made phrases, those idioms, which are more current and differ more from the English. Much will depend upon your own ingenuity, as well as upon
the positive knowledge which you may have already gained. I would, therefore, strongly urge upon you the necessity of acquiring as early as possible what I might call a “ French ear ;" which is nothing else, at bottom, but the habit, applied to your study of the French language, of judging by analogy, and of bringing all your store of knowledge to bear successively upon each particular case under your notice.
But take care, withal, lest you should change, ever and anon, and without any reason, the peculiar turn of the phrases in your text, as you will often thereby deprive your translation altogether of the author's original character, which ought, on the contrary, to be infused into it.-Get at once into the meaning and spirit of the author, and, without allowing yourself to be fettered by the mere wording, endeavour to make that spirit and that meaning pass entire into the minds of those who are to read you. А translator ought to be like a mirror that faithfully reflects the image presented to its surface. Therefore, I say, consider the idea, the spirit of the writer, first, and the words, the letter of the text, only afterwards. But should the same words, and the same turn, as those used by your author, express his meaning just
as well in French as they do in English, use them too, by all means; and never forget, that a literal translation is the best, if it is as strictly in accordance with the genius of the one language as of the other. Avoid, in short, both servility in the use of the very words of your original, and excess of freedom in the substitution of others : the just medium, the modus in rebus, in this respect, as in all others, must constantly be kept in view. Many a second-rate translation have I seen, in print, where the originality of the author, that kind of volatile essence, if I may so speak, had been allowed to escape and was completely gone, because the translator, for want of being able to manage some peculiar expressions, had substituted something of his own for them. Sometimes, the translators, though they were French, but because they had not had sufficient experience even in writing their own language, with which they were to all appearances but very imperfectly acquainted, had deviated from the literal translation of a particular expression in a manner which clearly showed that they did not know whether that literal translation was French or not. I just happen to remember one trifling instance, but which may serve as an illustration. The translator of the History of Christopher Columbus, by Washington Irving, has rendered "conscious of having greatly deserved” by, ayant la conscience des éminents services qu'il avait rendus. This is not, strictly speaking, a mistake, nor a very important matter, certainly : the rendering is correct enough; but why not translate this literally (as done at page 26, notes of this work)? The French expression mériter beaucoup means precisely étre digne de récompense par ses talents, par ses services, and corresponds, in fact, exactly to the English in the text. Why use a periphrasis instead of the proper expression ? Surely a shortcoming of this kind betrays some amount of igno
There are things which are untranslatable literally, and which, in order to be rendered in the spirit of the original, require the highest skill in the art of translating. On this point, I shall refer the more advanced of my readers to page 48, notes 6 and 7 of this work, among other places. Plays on words, puns, and the like, such as the one referred to, are often extremely difficult, and even unmanageable. The only thing to be done is, in many cases, to render them as near as we can by equivalents, and, sometimes, totally irrespective of the words in the text. Thus, e.g., in Shakspeare's Twelfth Night, Sir Andrew, exalting the power of his legs, says, “ 'Faith, I can cut a caper; to which Sir Toby replies, “ And I can cut the_mutton to 't.” Now, it so happens that the word 'caper,' in English, has two distinct meanings :