How Do You Translate “Fort de”?

Montreal Translation SyllabusSometimes the trick to a better translation is right in front of your nose. Take, for instance, the French expression “fort de.” I often run across French sentences that begin with “fort de son succès” or “fort de son experience”—especially when I’m translating résumés or bios.

And while it may be tempting to slap a quick “backed by his success” or “drawing on her experience” at the front of your sentence—stop and ask yourself: would I ever start a sentence this way?

The answer is—not too often. The reason? In English, the holy grail of writing is simplicity. If you clutter things up too much for no apparent reason, the English brain gets tired and cranky, and so do your readers!

Just because the original French is one way, doesn’t mean you must doggedly reproduce it to the letter.

My trick: use an everyday word. When it comes to “fort de,” I like to steer clear of over-the-top translations, like “buoyed by his success” (seriously, who says that?), and reach instead for slightly-mundane-but-ever-useful prepositions, like “with years of experience” or “after much success.”  

How do you handle this tricky term?

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