Translation Moments

We all know it can be tough translating idioms so that they capture the same feel as the original, while conveying the right message. But what about an idiom that contains an acronym that—wait for it—turns into an argument?

This was my most recent challenge:

Sortez votre arc…et vous ferez flèche de tout bois!

Lorsqu’une situation semble insoluble, il est important de s’arrêter, de décider de prendre une décision et de sortir son ARC : Acceptez-la, Retirez-vous, Changez-la.

Translation Moments Syllabus MontrealI’d like to believe that anything’s possible, and with enough time, energy, and all-out willpower, I can come up with the perfect translation to even the toughest challenge. Then reality hits—deadlines, exhaustion, mental frustration—and I finally come to the realization that I just need to get the message across and get ’er done.

Here was my solution:

ARC: accept, remove, change!

When a situation seems impossible, it’s important to stop, decide to make a decision, and remember the acronym ARC: Accept the situation. Remove yourself. Change it!

It may not win me the title of poet laureate, but it got the job done and readers will get the message. Some of the artistry of the original is lost, but if I’d come up with an English idiom that was too much of a stretch, the message would get muddled. And more often than not, the message is the most important part.

Had any tough translation moments lately? Share your story!



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