'Traduit de l'anglais' vs 'traduit de l'américain'

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Aupick, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    So for a while now I've noticed something curious about French translations of English-language literature. First of all, if the author is contemporary and from the US, the book tends to say (on the front or back cover, usually): traduit de l'américain, rather than the traduit de l'anglais that appears on books by British authors. Secondly, all the Americans I know in France seem to be offended by this, as if this suggests that American English is somehow cast as inferior, as if it somehow doesn’t qualify as 'English'. But I was wondering if it could also be taken in the other direction, and seen as a sign of respect, suggesting that American English has somehow acquired special status that is worth noting to foreign readers of literature. So I would like to know what other people think of this: what does 'américain' mean to francophones, what connotations does the term have, and why do you think it is used? (The books never say traduit de l’anglais américain.) And what do Americans think? Are you offended, flattered or indifferent? And do such distinctions appear in other countries?

    Some further comments: last time I was in a big bookshop, I did a little survey and discovered that: 'classics' (pre-WWII) simply said traduction de Machin Chouette (presumably we're supposed to know that Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne et les autres John Steinbeck are American) (did that 'autres' work, Wordsmyth, or should I quickly edit it out?); Canadian texts nearly always said traduit de l'anglais, although two novels by Margaret Atwood said traduit de l'anglais (Canada); books by Australian, South African, and Indian authors, and anyone who moved around too much just said traduit de l'anglais. (Sorry, couldn't think of any authors from New Zealand. :( ) And if some discerning moderator thinks this thread belongs in the culture forum, I won't be offended. :)
     
  2. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    You should change et les autres to et autres, Aupick, and, yes, I'm moving this thread to the culture forum. :)
     
  3. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    Hmm. I am not sure. I think Americans would be annoyed by it, especially if Canadian authors' translations say "traduit de l'anglais." In America, people would say that they speak English with an American accent. In both countries I found people treated American English as a difference in accent, not in dialect nor language.

    Americans' attitudes towards BE is mixed, from what I have perceived. When I moved to America, I was surprised to find that teachers would take away exam points if I wrote "colour" instead of "color," and so on. When I lived in a British colony, I found that many Americans who lived there were upset about being the stepchild of the English language. Conversely, many Americans love English accents and British-isms. And then there's the whole "international accent," which is a mix between the two developed in Anglophones who grew up abroad.

    I think the "traduit de l'anglais" reflects more closely French sentiments rather than those of the Anglophone world. French people generally prefer English teachers from Britain rather than from America. Incidentally this has always baffled me, since French speakers tend to overdiphthongize when they learn from English teachers from Britain.

    In any case, I don't imagine that "traduit de l'américain" was meant as a sign of respect by the French, and I expect that an American would not react to it as such.

    Any thoughts?

    Isotta.
     
  4. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Interesting question. I'd noticed the "traduit de l'américain" as well, and always thought it sounded rather illiterate. I'd be interested to know what effect it makes on native French speakers since they are making a distinction in French that we don't make in English (eg calling the language spoken by Americans something other than "English"). It seems rather presumptuous to me.
     
  5. Eddie

    Eddie Senior Member

    Nassau County, NY
    USA - English
    I don't presume to speak for ALL Americans. I personally have never been angered, upset, offended or otherwise bothered by the phrase traduit de l'américain. For me, it is one more example of the precision of expression for which the French language is famous. And yes, American English is diffferent from British English; so, as far as I'm concerned, the precision is a necessary and helpful one.

    There's my 2 cents. Take it or leave it.

    Doudou
     
  6. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    I've been thinking about this lately, because I wonder where it came from. With the written word I feel there is little difference between American and British English.

    Do the French feel that Americans speak "'américain," rather than English?

    Z.
     
  7. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    Can you really tell, when reading a French translation, whether the original was written in BE or AE?

    La clarté française? Do they ever write "traduit de l'australien" or "traduit du néo-zélandais"

    Actually, you'll see "Aus dem Amerikanischen übersetzt von X und Y" in some German translations.

    Perhaps they just want the reader to know that an American wrote the original book.
     
  8. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    That is an interesting question... I'll try to give my view as a French reader. My first guess would be, as Brioche, that they want to point out that the writer is north-american. Either because it has an influence on the style of the writing, or the cultural background is important to the story...
    And I would expect to see this written on a certain sort of books rather than others : Armistead Maupin, Douglas Kennedy, Michael Connelly... more "contemporary" litterature as you said Aupick.

    I just went on a books website and checked : for the 3 authors I mentioned, when it's written it does say "traduit de l'américain" - and I also saw (on a M.Connelly) "traduit de l'anglais (Etats-Unis)"
    Is there one you would find less offending ?

    I also saw some "traduit de l'espagnol (Mexique)", "traduit de l'espagnol (Colombie)"... and some "traduit de l'anglais (Canada)", "traduit de l’anglais (Australien)"
    So it does look like French precision !
     
  9. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Very interesting!
    A while ago I read that in France there were books by Brazilian authors on sale with the label traduit du brésilien, rather than traduit du portugais. Personally, I do not like this. I know that the borders between languages are fluid, that languages are just glorified dialects, and so on, but I don't think it's up to people who are neither Portuguese nor Brazilian to decide where to draw the line. Of course, I'm assuming that the initiative to write brésilien came from a French translator -- it could have come from a Brazilian, or a French-Brazilian, although I doubt it.

    By the way, I'd love to know whether they label books in Canadian French as traduit du quebecois, too. :D
     
  10. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I can't imagine being offended by "traduit de l'Américain," even if it was offered with a nuance of condescention.

    I'm also of a generation who were taught it isn't really correct. A lot of our discussion on the English-only channel has to do with the very real differences between AE and BE, but not yet between A and E. Are the differences becoming greater? Yes and no. BE is becoming wider-known in the U.S. thanks to BBCA and PBS programming, and of course internet forums, and the odd movie will get everyone to talking about "shagging."

    British- and American-authored books do read very different. I suppose an adept translator could preserve the differences in another language-- there'd be a whole art to that which I'm not knowledgeable about.

    I don't think the American dialect will ever become a separate language from the British-- if anything I foresee a convergence. If English becomes a lingua franca or world language, I can't see it being called American instead, and I hope it doesn't. Latin never came to be known as Roman, after all.
    .
     
  11. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    I had my first contact with this a couple of months back. Visitors from France left an Air France magazine here, and I made fumbling attempts to read it. One of the first articles said, "traduit de l'américain". That gave me a smile.

    Then I began to wonder about it, and concluded that it was, first and foremost, an accurate statement. I appreciated it for that, and did not impute an pro or con bias to it.

    cheers,
    Cuchu
     
  12. JazzByChas

    JazzByChas Senior Member

    I must agree. American English, although retaining some features distinct from all other varieties of English spoken, is, in the end, English. I think that if you say, "traduis de l'américain', you are really saying "traduis de de l'anglais l'américain.
     
  13. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    Thank you, Aupick, for starting this discussion. (And may you return to WRF to continue it!)

    Two of the previous posts illustrate points I would like to make (emphasis added):
    As an American who has lived in France for over ten years (mostly in Paris), I am unhappy to report that yes, the French do seem to think that we speak a different language than English. And phrases like traduit de l'américain only serve to reinforce this wrongheaded idea.

    I've told this story elsewhere in the Forum, but here it is again, to illustrate my point.

    Once my (amateur) chorale was scheduled to perform at l'Elgise de la Madeleine with a small orchestra. Our guest conductor produced a poster for the event that was 95% in French, with one sentence in English. Yet in this one sentence he had managed to make three mistakes! When I pointed them out to him, he replied, Ah, mais vous êtes Américaine, non ?

    He's not alone: I've talked with other French who believe that we don't ever share the same verb conjugations or tenses!

    So I agree with Timpeac, the use of this phrase is presumptuous, it leads to grave misunderstandings, and for that reason I do resent it! :)

    P.S. The alternative is easy, as Outsider noted: French publishing houses should write: "traduit de l'anglais (Canadien)", "traduit de l’anglais (Australien)" etc.
     
  14. xwolfi Junior Member

    French
    As a recent english learner (I'm 23), I remember that at school our teachers always taught us that English and Amerish were different, not totally different, and not implying american was inferior, but rather as if English was more "pure" than american... a bit like how the canadian french variant is seen by us. And as a previous poster said, it's true that it's strange we prefer british english over american english, since the american accent is easier to mimic imho.

    And I'm sure the "translated from american" is intended as a form of respect, I never felt it was an insult, but rather an immediate way of informing the reader about the origin of the book. But I may be wrong as I'm far from an expert and am still learning everyday :D (and we're not speaking about the average french here, but about editing houses that are people who deal with culture everyday, they're not prone to perpetuate petty wars between french and american people)
     
  15. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    Hello, xwolfi! Two quick comments:
    Well, that's part of the problem, because a case could be made to prove the opposite, as American English actually preserves historical forms (the subjunctive "were" and the pronunciation of final 'r', just to name two that come to mind) that have been all or mostly lost in "English English".
    I'm sure that's not their intention. But the result is that many French people feel that American English is far more different from British English than it actually is. I've met a number of French people subject to that misconception.

    And speaking of accent alone, I would simply mention that British TV series do not have to be dubbed for diffusion in the U.S., nor the reverse! By contrast, speakers of Brazilian Portuguese have a very hard time understanding "Portuguese Portuguese", and it's a well-known fact that Québecois TV series are dubbed for a "French French" audience.
     
  16. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Interesting resurrected thread. I stand by my (6 year old:eek:) comment above that I found it presumptuous, but I take on board the comments in this thread that it's probably not meant to be.

    I expect it's a mixture of a mark of respect and desire for further precision. The trouble is that it's not up to foreign languages to make such distinctions on the parts of others. Friendly banter apart, I don't think that British speakers or American speakers seriously think they speak anything other than very much the same language, with regional differences (and not one a dialect of the other). The trouble is that where French "helpfully" uses the term américain this would be positively divisive in English (the American or British version!:D) where we like to think we are really just one happy English-speaking family.

    A few specifics largely of vocabulary apart the two varieties indeed are, in my opinon, pretty much the same. No bigger a difference than some found between regions within each country in any case.

    This question reminds me of the annoyance I've heard from Scottish people on hearing the Spanish call anyone from the British Isles Inglés.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  17. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    Yes! :thumbsup:
    Hear, hear! That's how I feel too, but it's nice to hear it said from the other side of the 'pond'.
    Ditto for the Irish. ;)

    And (again from the other side of the 'pond') Canadians are equally annoyed, I believe, to be considered "Americans". (Meaning "United-Statesians".) I always take the trouble to refer to people from the English-speaking New World in general as "North Americans" in order to include (or not exclude) Canadians, but I believe I'm in the minority.
     
  18. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    You have had remarkably different experiences from me in that case. I have never met one French person who thought that English and "American" were different languages.

    American English and British English do differ, often greatly. The French seem to want to reflect that with the traduit de l'américain. But I have never come across anyone so stupid as to believe the two dialects are different languages.
     
  19. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Just to repeat - they are not dialects, they're not even close to being dialects!! It's the same language with regional differences. I don't think they differ greatly, not if you consider internal differences within each country or consider differences between other varieties. I think they are remarkably similar given how long they have been split. All this is subjective of course - how much one variety needs to differ from another to be considered a regional variety/a dialect/a different language is a moot question - but I think the important point is that the English language and its speakers don't consider them to be different languages, or dialects.

    It also seems a bit sycophantic to me that if the French want this sort of precision they don't extend it to other varieties of English too. Indian English is far more different from British English than American English, for example, but would that say traduit de l'Indien ? What about countries (such as India) which have several official languages? How would you know which was meant? It's just weird - presumptuous - for one language to make distinctions about another culture or language that actively aren't accepted in that culture or language.

    Imagine we had a book in English that proclaimed itself "translated from the Austrian" or "translated from the Colombian" - it would be bizarre, and not a touch presumptuous, as I say, to decide when German or Spanish has changed enough to be considered another language.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  20. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    It depends how you frame the word dialect after all. Two differing "standards" might be more appropriate terminology.

    I've always understood traduit de l'américain to mean translated from American English. I have also come across traduit de l'écossais and (I think) traduit de l'australien. Personally, it doesn't bother me, even if I think traduit de l'anglais suffices perfectly well, especially as the book is no longer in the source language.
     
  21. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Was it a loaded comment? The reason I ask is that funnily enough I was just watching TV about 2 hours ago and heard a British speaker say "translated from the American" which, of course having been dealing with this thread recently, made me sit up and listen. In this case it was a disparaging comment (and therefore one I'm not proud to report as a fellow Brit). The over-arching context was about sub-titling films for deaf people but this particular comment was a snide comment about rather than show good films in their original form with sub-titles the (American) film houses reproduce them "in American", as the person in question put it - clearly distancing (rightly or wrongly, and probably wrongly) British film houses and himself from this practice and clearly implying that reproducing them "in American" made them worse.

    In any case, whatever the specifics the British speaker here using the term "American" to refer to the language definitely did mean to give it further nuances than simply mean "American English", supporting what I say above about it being divisive. As such, I could imagine the same being done in French. That said, I've seen many many books with "traduit de l'américain" but hadn´t noticed it in relation to other varieties. I'm sure it does happen - and happens in the same sense as "traduit de l'américain", ie simply pointing out the variety in question - but I don't think it's routine as it is with "américain".

    So I mean that describing Trainspotting, say, as "traduit de l'écossais" is wholly believable - but there would be a nuance given, in this case presumably that this is an extremely "Scottish" book, which it deliberately is.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  22. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    Absolutely right!
    Well said!

    On the other hand....
    Well, how much time have you spent in France? I have lived in France (mostly in Paris) for nearly twelve years, and that's been my experience (see my posts above for examples). Your info states that you're in Montréal. I would imagine -- although I have no experience in the matter -- that Canadians might have a much more nuanced view of "Englishes" than do the French.

    In any case, the two points I wish readers would take away from this discussion are the following:

    (1) As Timpeac puts it so well, it's presumptuous of the French to make a distinction between two 'brands' of English that are not even dialects of each other, not to mention two different languages -- but more importantly, it's a distinction not made by the speakers of British and American English themselves. (As another example I would note the infamous "English only" movement in the U.S. It's not called "American only"!)

    (2) This habit of labelling books as traduit de l'américain / écossais / australien etc. causes the French to believe that the regional variants of English differ far more than they actually do. One Parisian woman of my acquaintance was amazed when I informed her that American English uses the same verb endings as British English!

    It can also hurt people's job prospects: a friend who was hired by Berlitz in Paris was told to "lose" her American accent, or students wouldn't be happy to be assigned to her classes. On the other hand, as a translator I don't believe I've lost any jobs because I'm American and not English. But perhaps the staff of the multinational corporations for which I (mostly) work are well-travelled enough to realize that technical documents (spelling differences aside) are nearly identical between the two languages. (And I do set my spell-checker to U.K. English!)
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  23. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    That's really sad:(.
    I think this point is worth reinforcing - much of the larger "differences" between American and British English relate to either colloquial vocabulary or non-standard grammar (and non-standard in relation to the standard of each country, not just to the other variety) or arbitrary spelling differences of a relatively small number of words such as color/colour. British and American speakers hardly have any difficulty at all sitting round a table having a drink and chatting - and certainly no more difficulty than someone from one end of either country would have with one of his own compatriots from the other end of the country, often less.

    After all, the specifics of the information in the posts apart, could anyone really tell who out of LMorland and me were American and who British?
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  24. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    I am in Montreal now; it was not always thus. I spent 4 years on and off living in France (Paris, Bordeaux and Marseille), including a good part of my undergraduate degree, and all of my Masters degree. In that time, I never met anyone who considered the two to be different languages. If anything, most people outside university circles whom I encountered were ignorant of any differences existing at all, given that they had little or no grasp of English themselves. I did meet a few who used the outdated term "British Isles" and thus thought Irish people were somehow British, but that was about it.

    That's not say some French people don't hold such a view as regards an apparent English/American division, but I don't believe it is widespread, at least, I hope it isn't.

    Well, I must confess that as an English-speaker, it doesn't much bother me and even if it did, it wouldn't make a jot of difference - it's their language and they will do with it as they wish (I doubt they'll stop including Ireland in les îles britanniques any time soon either, for example).

    In the same vein, I would never dream of emploing such a gaudy word as United Stater whatever the audience, but I am aware that in Spanish, I had better think hard before using americano or risk causing offence.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  25. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Well of course it doesn't and wouldn't! You're an English speaker but you're not English or American!

    Put it this way - Someone who has lived most of his life in Ireland but now lives in Northern Ireland writes a book. How should the French - in the proclaimed clarity - express that? Traduit de l'anglais? Traduit de l'irlandais (which language??) Traduit de l'irlandais du nord? Traduit de l'irlandais tout court? Traduit de l'anglais de quelqu'un qui est né en Irlande? Traduit du britannique??

    It's not up to foreign languages to get involved in shades of nuance of language or patriotism.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  26. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Like I said, it doesn't really bother me, even when it concerns me directly. I've been called British and, horror of horrors, English by some French people, and I can't say that much perturbed me either. I am quite partial to all things British after all, and fortunately or unfortunately, English is my mother tounge. :)

    More seriously, in my own language, I will use terms which reflect the English as spoken in my native land (that means British Isles is out, as is United Statesian/Stater and other horrid neologisms). But if the French want to say traduit de l’américain, de l'irlandais du nord or whatever else, good luck to them. I've always taken traduit de l’américain to mean American English, and I think (though we'd need one to come confirm for sure) the vast majority of French people do too. If ''américain'' is being used as a marker of the two being different languages, of course it's time to get out the horns and protest banners, but I don't think we're there yet.
     
  27. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    I think you're missing my point - or perhaps I'm not expressing myself well. I agree, I'm sure that they mean it in terms of "American English" and nothing more sinister from their point of view. It's just naive at best to think that inventing terms relating to language or patriotism that aren't accepted by the culture in question won't have a strong reaction. Apart from anything else they don't systematically (in my opinion) do it usually for other varieties of English which makes it even more odd.
     
  28. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Would that they only said traduit de l'anglais (Etats-Unis) and then we'd all be satisfied!
     
  29. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    That would indeed be no problem at all!
     
  30. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    :thumbsup: Amen!
     
  31. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    -
    Harry Potter books are translated from UK English into US English.
    Paulo Coelho's books are translated from Brazilian Portuguese to Continental Portuguese.

    Sometimes, these translations (or adaptations) are made because words from another dialect/variant can distract from reading.
    A person (especially the ones who are not too familiar with another variant) may find it easier to read (or more relaxing to read) in his/her own variant.

    And in this case, it is not written: translated from English, or traduzido do brasileiro :p

    In Brazil, we call our language Portuguese, and not Brazilian. Even people who say that cannot understand Continental Portuguese call our language Portuguese, and not Brazilian.


    I like the expression ''língua tupiniquim'' because it's affectionate and not political(ized) as ''língua brasileira''. :)

    I think people should use standardized expressions (the ones Microsoft is using):

    English (UK)
    English (US)
    English (CA)
    English (IN)
    English (NZ)
    English (AU)
    Portuguese (BR)
    Portuguese (PT)
    and so on...

    byeee
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  32. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    Our (French) craving for accuracy seems only matched by the British / American aspiration to language oneness...

    I find it interesting that nobody noticed the original language of the book is actually of little importance - the only fact worth mentioning is that what you're reading is a translation, not the original text.
    Of course the original language is worth mentioning somewhere, but less interesting (to me) than the cultural background of the author - and this information is always important, not only for translations.
    Marcel Proust and Jules Verne are speaking the same language, and so are Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain - now you have said nothing when you have said that this language is French or English.

    We French enjoy specifying the language and the country of the author, and you British / American enjoy adorning books with sycophantic blurbs - let's talk of cultural differences rather than presumptuousness...
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  33. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    :D
    To be perfectly frank, I find the sycophantic blurbs quite annoying and over the top myself.

    FÉLICITATIONS SUR TON 10.000eme POSTIVERAIRE !!!
     
  34. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    In linguistics that is called "pluricentric language", which is right at least for the spelling and a part of the vocabulary. Then, the pronunciation isn't unified even across the countries, even if there are some "standards pronunciations" like "BBC English, RP, the Queen's English" - sorry, don't know what is the equivalent in the US or Canada.
     
  35. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    I can't think of a precise name for "standard American English" at the moment, but I would note that the "unaccented accent" in U.S. English is situated in the middle of the country (not too far north, or you end up with the kind of accent one hears in Fargo), around Nebraska, I think.

    The standard accent is definitely not found in New York, New England (especially Boston), nor in the American South (+ Texas)! Those are all considered "accents". Most of the speakers of West Coast meet the criteria for "unaccented accent" as well, except for the "Valley Girl"/rising intonation-type speech found mostly in Southern California.

    The standard Canadian accent sounds like the standard U.S. accent, except for the special "Canadian vowel". Wikipedia currently has a good article about that.

    Thanks for the term "pluricentric language", Angelo di fuoco! :)
     
  36. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Here's an article by someone who was apparently annoyed by this practice back in 1975 and challenged some French and German publishing houses to justify it:
    Traduit de L'Américain
     
  37. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    Yet it's strange how UK/US focus here on a supposed "different languages" issue, while FR/GE merely insist (to my opinion) on the country of origin as an additional piece of background information...

    Of course you will find French guys believing that UK and US speak a different language - you could probably as well find an American wondering whether Oslo is the capital of Finland or the other way round. Life is rich.

    As I said before, the original language is not the issue - some think that anglais is enough, some find it interesting to mention américain; I for myself would not even mention it (the "About The Author" section should be here to this purpose).
    It seems that being more accurate than you means being too accurate...
     
  38. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Not true - we focus on it here because the French language presents the two as being different languages. As discussed above, there would be no problem with saying "traduit de l'anglais (Etats-Unis)".
    Only if you invent inaccurate terms to reflect the desired accuracy;). As LMorland points out well, even the "English Only" movement in the US doesn't call itself "American Only". The American language doesn't exist.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  39. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    This is exactly why your focus is the wrong one: what you don't accept really is the qualifier we use - "américain".
    Otherwise why would you agree with "anglais (Etats-Unis)"?...
    Well, for most of us ignorant French, the outcome is the same - a simple statement that "anglais (UK)" and "anglais (Etas-Unis)" are not written by the same people.
    We say "different people", and you hear "different languages" - because américain strikes a chord that we don't really understand.

    As long as the discussion is about language and culture, I'm interested in it.
    But I'll tiptoe out when patriotism knocks at the door...
     
  40. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Because there is no such thing as the American language. "L'américain" equates it with "le français", "l'anglais", "l'allemand" - with all the sociocultural associations that a language denomination has.
    It's purely one of grammar - and it's really not about the word "américain". If it were correct grammar to write "traduit de l'anglais américain" then I don't think people would mind either. I think many people above have said they doubt the intent is to suggest they are truly different languages. The thing is that you don't say "different people". The grammar of "l'américain" is explicitly to turn it into a language and so that is what we hear.

    I don't understand what you mean by that. You are still here so I presume you understand that by that I don't mean it makes me, or LMorland, you, or anyone else in the discussion patriotic - my point is that if you start mixing up terms relating to language and culture that don't have a one-to-one correlation you risk causing confusion or offence. I think that your point of view would be much stronger if "traduit de l'américain" could potentially mean that it was written in Spanish by a native Spanish speaker, for example, who happened to come from the USA - but of course it doesn't because it refers to the language not the person.

    In summary, I think your position is that although "l'américain" grammatically makes it appear as a language, we should read it as "written by an American person". I also think that I have offended you by saying I found this presumptuous. Perhaps it would help if I take that back and say simply that I find it inaccurate because it is not a paradigm that is followed by other usages relating to what the word language means or implies, not followed consistently with other languages and other varieties of English and because there are very few countries in the world where all the natives of that country speak one accepted language such that you can equate the name of the country directly with their language.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  41. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    You see explicitness where I can see no hidden agenda: I bet my shirt that the translator or editor preferring de l'américain to de l'anglais américain never thought for one minute about adding a "different language" message.
    The four variations "traduit de l'américain", "traduit de l'anglais américain", "traduit de l'anglais (américain)", "traduit de l'anglais (Etats-Unis)" can be found, and the most frequent is... the shortest.
    We try to be accurate, we only achieve laziness.

    I would also remark that ignorance (in France) is such that "anglais" here would often be understood as "from England"; hence maybe a tendency to replace with "américain".
    Same with so many "traduit du hollandais" (instead of "néerlandais"...) - I fail to see any naughty bias here.

    Here are the "accusations" I found levelled in this thread against this "traduit de l'américain":
    "Cast as inferior", "misleading", "English not your business" - we are judged on intentions, not on facts.

    So I'll re-quote the 1st post:
    My answer is yes (and many other posters agreed).
    Our grammar may be poor, but our heart is not jet black...

    Please note that I'm not suggesting there are no anti-American or anti-British feelings deep-rooted among us French.
    Far from it, we have strong ones and Lmorland would certainly confirm; I resent this more than you would imagine.
    So I can understand (and acknowledge) any touchiness from the English side - now groundless accusations won't help...
     
  42. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    How would using anglais (États-Unis) instead of américain (which you say would be "no problem at all") suggest any less that natives of the United States speak/write a certain way, distinct from natives of other countries?

    For the average French speaker, américain means "the variety of English used in the United States". In other words, it is exactly equivalent to anglais américain, just shorter. You may find some below-average French speakers who don't know that Americans speak some kind of English, and yes, the shortening of the phrase does leave this interpretation open (without requiring it). It's nice to be concerned about such people, but I don't believe that publishers and authors should necessarily have to write with this audience in mind.

    I am sure that many English speakers are shamefully unaware that Quebecois is a kind of French. We could solve this problem by eliminating the use of Quebecois in English and saying/writing only Quebec French or French (Quebec), or better yet, just saying French, since after all, they have no problem having a chat with other French speakers, and it is presumptuous of us, as English speakers, to make distinctions in English about non-English things. This would also rectify the fundamental injustice and sycophantism of having a simple name for one variety of French but not for every other imaginable variety of French.
     
  43. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Capnprep - I started to reply to your message, but can't see a single thing I could reply that I haven't said above.
     
  44. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    That's fine with me.
     
  45. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I think everything has pretty much been stated here. I'll just say I personally do not like "traduit de l'américain" or "brésilien" or "mexicain" or anything of the sort. I feel it does somehow tend to exaggerate the interior differences in a language and some people could and do interpret this as being evidence of vast differences that approach those of a different language. More people than you think do believe this to a point. Discussions come up far too often.
    However, translations by nature are not dealing with the distinguishing elements of the original language anyway. In France they merely render and transfer the message of the original language into French. "Traduit de l'anglais" "du portugais" "de l'espagnol" are good enough for this pupose.
    By the way, as an extra, not wanting to go off-subject at all here, another term I object to which is used in France et al. is "General American", which attempts to codify and generalize all American speakers. One of the unfortunate side-effects is it tends to assume those who don't speak in a certain "general" manner are somehow wrong and less authentic.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
  46. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    Bien dit ! :)
     
  47. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    -
    In the US, ''General American'' is no longer in technical use. But it's still used in Europe by many people, especially by British phonologists.
    Never trust a British phonologist on American pronunciation. There are just too many wrong pronunciations given in Cambridge & Longman Pronouncing Dictionaries.
    For American pronunciation I stick with MW's Learner's Dictionary (the only US dictionary with IPA symbols): http://www.learnersdictionary.com
     
  48. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    What I'm pretty sure of is that the bias is in their eye, not in the person responsible for "traduit de l'américain".
    As I said, "we" mean nothing derogatory (see my "traduit du hollandais" above). We may be pinching a painful nerve, but we didn't even know there was a nerve here.

    I have never met this "General American" expression before. Is it used by non-English speakers...?
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  49. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley until June
    American living in France
    I know you guys don't; why would you, when all the great French publishing houses support the notion that "American" is a different language from "English"? Thank you, JdS, for letting yourself be educated! Now we just have to work on the rest of the French intelligentsia....
    I haven't either, and I studied a bit of linguistics at U.C. Berkeley. However, Istriano is (I gleaned after some research, since he is cagey about identifying himself here on WR) a (professional?) linguist from Bahia, a region of Brazil, and so it apparently is a term of use in his circles, at least.
     
  50. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Jean. I know you mean nothing by it. You know English perfectly. It's the people who don't, those who have half learned it and are reading translated literature who spread the legend, and of course, it's fueled by those who have the bias you alude to.

    LMorland and JeanDeSponde
    General American is something I don't think native speakers would ever study or know about. It wouldn't be politically correct in the US or even logical. Never heard about it until I got to France. It's used by some profesors/teachers and other French inteligentsia types, not usually by others. It's a kind of artificial standard for the way Europeans believe all Americans should/might/could/ need to speak and can often border on caricature. They would say things like: An American uses this word all the time (not another), pronounces it this way (not another), and uses these verb forms, etc. etc. There's often an implication that there is something wrong if you don't. Take it with a grain of salt. Another example of that nerve people don't know they're pinching. This article talks a bit about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_American
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011

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