Bowling alone

S.M.

Senior Member
French. France.
Hi all,

Still needing your help to translate a book title!

Bowling Alone. The Collapse and Revival of American Community, by R.D. Putman.

I have no idea what "bowling alone" means here. Is it a metaphor, like throwing one's bowl alone, instead of playing the social game? (The article I'm translating deals with community breakdown).

The books seems to be rather famous but I couldn't find any French translation of the title on the internet, it is always quoted in English, so I would like to provide the French readers with a translation into brackets.

In case my guess were right: Quand le jeu devient trop personnel: effondrement et renaissance du sens communautaire américain.
 
  • Jorōgumo

    Senior Member
    French
    People who bowl alone do not participate in social interaction and civic discussions that might occur in a league environment. I like how you translated the first part of the sentence. Nevertheless, concerning the second one, I would have said chute et renouveau de la communauté américaine, because it is less literal.
     

    S.M.

    Senior Member
    French. France.
    Thanks Jorogumo!

    All along my translation, given the context I've have stuck to sens communautaire for "community", but you're right that in this very title communauté works better, so I'll keep it.
     

    misterk

    Moderator
    English-American
    Just FYI: The Italian translation of this book ignores the bowling metaphor and renders the first part of the title as "Social Capital and Individualism."
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    The original title is something like "quand on va au bowling tout seul," "le jeu de boules solitaire." I don't know if I like "personnel," because it might sound more like you want to be alone (the original title makes it sound like the person who "bowls alone" doesn't do so by choice, but because s/he has nobody else to play with).
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I do prefer "seul" to "personnel." How would "seul au bowling" sound? Does anybody know what a bowling alley means outside of the US?
     

    Jorōgumo

    Senior Member
    French
    Here, it is a metaphorical use of the term bowling. It means that someone doesn't like the team spirit and does prefer to "play it solo". Jeu solitaire might be appropriate.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Hm. Except "bowling" is (or was) such a big part of American popular culture in many states. People used to go to the bowling alley once or twice a week to play with their team; it was considered a fundamental part of small-town life. This clearly doesn't mean "preferring to 'play it solo'"; instead it's referring to the way the whole social institution must have fallen apart to leave people with nobody else to bowl with.

    I just feel like the cultural resonance of "bowling" might be lost in translation somewhat.
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English

    Here, it is a metaphorical use of the term bowling. It means that someone doesn't like the team spirit and does prefer to "play it solo". Jeu solitaire might be appropriate.
    I'm sorry, but it's not a metaphorical use at all here. It refers to actual bowling which, as Lucas-sp so rightly points out, used to be a big part of American culture. Bowling leagues were very popular before but now, as the title states, that is no longer the case.


    If you click on the link below, you will see the cover of this book, which shows a man in a bowling alley bowling all by himself, not with his community league as in the old days.

    http://books.google.com/books/about/Bowling_Alone.html?id=cettawwJwxsC
     

    Jorōgumo

    Senior Member
    French
    I don't know that book... Now that I see it, I can not deny it. I thought that, because the first part of the title is related to something particular (a certain sport), and since the second half of it is more general (a community), it was probably a metaphorical use of the term bowling, but it isn't. Anyway, thank you for pointing that out.
    I guess it could simply be translated by something like Jouer seul au bowling.
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    An understandable mistake, Jorogumo.:)

    @S.M.: I hope it's only the title of this book that you have to translate. One reader said "the writing style induces anguish....The writing is terrible...so tedious."
     

    S.M.

    Senior Member
    French. France.
    Great: you go to bed, you wake up, and the job is done! ;)

    So many thanks to all of you.

    I think I will go with: "Même au bowling ils sont seuls" (a French equivalent might be: La pétanque en solitaire!:D)

    @LanguageHound: don't worry, it's only the title I have to translate, it's given as a reference. (But to be honest the whole article is not the must exciting stuff I've ever translated, in terms of style.:()
     
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