Archives pour la catégorie Grammar Freak


Plural of colors in French

11 mai 2012 2 commentaires

As the title more than suggests, this post is about… the plural of colors in French, which is one of many tricky rules of this language. And also about the sad story of a mispelled brand new football/soccer jersey.

So let me be honest: I don’t really see the point of translating it into English.

Think of me as a lazy blogger (which I am), but if you don’t speak French, you probably won’t be interested by this article. And if you do, then you can just go through the article in French. I tried to make it as clear as possible, even for non-French readers!


Belle Lurette

14 mars 2012 3 commentaires

French is a fascinating language. And Antidote is a fantastic tool to discover new stuff.

For example, I just learned the origin of the phrase « il y a belle lurette » (it was ages ago). I use Antidote (Ma Voisine Millionnaire presents the software here, in French) for its powerful spellcheck, but also for its various guides and dictionaries, such as the synonyms dictionary that saved many a translation. I was looking for a colourful synonym of « longtemps » and found « il y a belle lurette ». As I was looking for something specific, donkey-related (don’t ask why), I decided to find more about this strange word, « lurette », as I never saw it alone, out of this phrase.

Well, Antidote taught me that it is simply a derivation of « il y a belle heurette » (« heurette » standing for « petite heure »), which sounds quite nice by the way.

Now I’m tempted to tackle some French question now and then, or share basic but tricky rules (such as the plural with non-integer numbers, inversion subject/verb, etc.). Would it sound good to you?

And don’t forget : the 2nd Translation Forum opens tomorrow at the French Book Fair in Paris. Will I meet you there?

Sports Journalism, without any qualms?

6 octobre 2011 1 commentaire

Who said sports and intellect weren’t good bedfellows?

I often translate sports related texts, I am thus quite interested by the lexical fields used by sports journalists, such as the war references for games that are supposedly peaceful – or even pacifist (« At the end of a fierce struggle, X defeated its arch enemy Y, who finally surrendered« ).

Last summer, in the newspaper L’Équipe, the linguist Claude Hagège was briefly interviewed. From « no trouble » to « Du côté de chez Swann, » from culture to ignorance, he analyzes good and bad habits of sports journalists and how they copy one another without any qualms.

Claude Hagège also says he’s delighted to see the newspaper using the past simple tense: he should maybe avoid visiting the website, since we always use the imperfect tense in French… Anyway, here’s the full article.

On the same subject, during my stay in Barcelona I found an interesting little book from Néstor Alonso Hernández: « El Lenguaje de las crónicas deportivas » (ed. Cátedra), which analyzes the grammar, the syntax and the vocabulary of sports chronicles

PS: Sorry for the silence, I have been very busy and still am. In the next posts, I will try to write about the Glagolitic alphabet I saw in Croatia, as well as two purely froggy subjects about freelance working. Please be patient.

Trick or Mistreats?

14 avril 2011 4 commentaires

As some of you already know, I went through the Great European Adventure (just like Les Piles). I may write an extensive report someday (for the moment I’m just being very impatient for the results coming in June). Meanwhile, some colleagues convinced me to write this post.

I’m not sure I’m authorized to publish the Italian text used for the French translation test at EPSO, which I found on the web. I can at least tell you that it was originally published in R2 Diario supplement to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. On D-Day,  various candidates including me noticed a typo in the Italian source text. The second instance of a proper name had a letter changed. Or maybe was it La Repubblica’s Thomson and Thompson.

The thing is that this typo doesn’t exist in the original article.


So, honest mistake or intentional trick? I can’t imagine some European official retyping all the test texts just to have a standard layout when copy-paste is so easy. It is thus a typo added, intentionally or not, to the article. Would it be a new method to assess our concentration skills?

Just to be sure, I added a translator’s note at the end of my paper to point the typo.

So what do you think? Careless mistake or real trick?