Translationese. A sorry language. It makes a comeback when a translator’s idea of revision is one quick read-over.
We’ve all seen stiff-sounding translations by native speakers. At cause: a) the translator accepted a ridiculous deadline and/or four peanuts per word and had no time to work up a sweat. Or b) the translator may have excellent source language skills but is a poor writer.
First draft versus sixth draft
As for myself, my first drafts are shameful. I tend to grab the closest words at my brain’s disposal.
I then make tea. The process of re-working and revising requires at least one hot cup an hour as I attempt to make something really English.
Here’s how I might revise my work (while keeping the context and the author’s voice in mind):
French term First grab What about… ?
compétences skills skill set
influence influence clout
critiques criticism flak
tentative attempt foray
vol robbery heist
projet personnel personal project pet project
tâche difficile difficult task tall order
publicité publicity plug
évaluer to evaluate to vet
embellir to beautify to spruce up
montrer to show to showcase
ignorer to ignore to tune out
partager to share to divvy up
banal ordinary run-of-the-mill
How do you avoid “translationese”?