Traduction cordiale

March 4, 2010

I have two memories of delightful English-French translation ("Words with no meaning", 18 February). One was in an article based on a conference paper, where I had quoted Mary Evans' term, "administrative Rottweilers". On proofreading, I found that the dogs had become Dobermanns because "we don't have Rottweilers in France". The second was from a former French civil servant, who claimed to have checked the translation of "finalité" in a dictionary, where the English was given as "raison d'être".

Ian McNay, Professor emeritus, University of Greenwich.

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