How Do You Translate “Moi”?

Translation Syllabus Montreal Teenager Pointing at himselfThe answer may seem painfully obvious—even to someone who doesn’t know French. But translating is full of little traps, and I come across this one all the time.

Recently I was asked to translate a training manual and was faced with the line “Mes clients et mon offre de produits et services.”

In English, it would sound very odd to say “My clients and my product and service offering.” It begs the question—who is “me”? The reader or the writer?

Often, and in this particular instance, “moi” can be translated as “you.” By doing so, you’re speaking to the reader, making them feel included, and helping them relate. In French, “moi,” “je,” and “mes” have the same effect.

Remember, in English we talk to people, we tell them what to do and how to do it without batting an eye. It’s the English way.

The title of this blog is an excellent case in point. I didn’t write “How Do I Translate ‘Moi’?” That would be weird—and ridiculously self-important.

Another option is to drop the pronouns altogether. In the previous examples, you could simply write “Clients and product and service offering” and “How to Translate ‘Moi’.” It’s less personal, but the message is the same.

© Sabphoto – Fotolia.com

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One Comment

  1. Alexie Doucet

    As far as the “moi” is concerned, in Verdun (Montreal), where Anglos and Francos have lived together for a long, long time, French has melted into Shakespeare’s language: when you hear “Me, I prefer to…” in the middle of a conversation, you know you are dealing with a true Verdun Anglo.

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