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Exploring languages and cultures
Exploring languages and cultures

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5.6 Improving a translation

Editing is an important part of translation. You will now try your hand at polishing an extract from a French newspaper article about Chinese immigrant children in Paris, which was translated into English using an online translation tool.

Activity 44

Rewrite this text in the box below so that it makes sense and reads well in English. You will have to guess at the most likely meaning of phrases or sentences that are difficult to understand.


You may find that cutting and pasting the original text into the text box so you can overwrite it with your edited version is the easiest approach here. The shortcuts cut (Ctrl + c) and paste (Ctrl + v) may be useful.

Reading 6 Why Chinese children have more difficulty learning French?

Often parents come a few years before their child, raised in the country by his grandparents. In Paris, the parents start paying back their debt. Then save to get him. The change of scenery. Often, the child discovers when he has a little brother or two. His parents, he knows no more, working all the time. Again, the French criticise this way of doing things. But what do you imagine? It is fun they have left their first child in the country? Then, it takes little time to accept this new life and the loss of bonding with the people who raised him.

Could imagine that the school system to help these children?

In Finland, the school must organise language courses for migrants as they are from the same three countries. Far from it! Suppose a child to learn better the language of the host country, he has mastered his mother tongue is pragmatism. I am often invited to schools. Each time, this is a time when Chinese children are very happy. Their culture is valued. One day a little girl hitherto silent expressed emotions in French. This language appeared to him without meaning is coloured. When this happens, I am delighted. But we can not predict what will cause a click. I also teaches Chinese to French children. Belleville is Wenzhou in Paris. Both believed that the integration should be done in one direction, it will fail.

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Here is the same article, but this time translated from the French original by a human translator. Compare the content and style with your own version. Are there any instances where the meaning of your version is different because the computer-generated translation was misleading?

Reading 7 Why do Chinese children find it increasingly difficult to learn French?

Parents often arrive a few years before their children, who are brought up by their grandparents in the countryside while their parents save up to bring them over. The culture shock is enormous, and children often discover that they have one or two new siblings, and that their parents, whom their barely know anymore, work all the time. But what do we think? Would they have left their children behind out of pleasure? Also, it takes a child some time to come to terms with their new life and with the loss of emotional ties with the people who brought them up.

How could educational institutions help these children?

In Finland, schools are required to organise language classes for migrants once there are three from the same country in a school. We are far from this! Pragmatically one would assume that children will eventually master the language of the host country better than their mother tongue. I often get invited to schools and Chinese children feel very happy each time this happens because they feel their culture is valued. One day a little girl who had not uttered a word until then began to express her emotions in French. That language, which had seemed meaningless to her, became coloured with meaning. When that happens I am delighted. However, we cannot predict what will trigger the change. I also teach Chinese to French children in Belleville, it’s Wenzhou in Paris. As long as we believe that integration is a one-way street, we will fail!

(Diatkine, 2007)

And, if you also read French, have a look at the original (Reading 8) and compare it with its translation.

Reading 8 Pourquoi les enfants chinois ont-ils de plus en plus de mal à apprendre le français ?

Souvent les parents viennent quelques années avant leur enfant, élevé à la campagne par ses grands-parents. A Paris, les parents commencent par rembourser leur dette. Puis économise pour le faire venir. Le dépaysement est total. Souvent, l’enfant découvre alors qu’il a un petit frère ou deux. Que ses parents, qu’il ne connaît plus, travaillent tout le temps. Là encore, les Français critiquent cette manière de faire. Mais qu’est-ce qu’on s’imagine ? Que c’est par plaisir qu’ils ont d’abord laissé leur enfant au pays ? Ensuite, il faut du temps au petit pour accepter cette nouvelle vie et la perte des liens affectifs avec les personnes qui l’ont élevé.

Que pourrait imaginer l’institution scolaire pour aider ces enfants ?

En Finlande, l’école a obligation d’organiser des cours de langues pour les migrants dès qu’ils sont trois issus du même pays. On en est loin ! Supposer qu’un enfant assimile mieux la langue du pays d’accueil, qu’il maîtrise sa langue maternelle tient du pragmatisme. Je suis souvent invité dans des écoles. A chaque fois, c’est un moment où les enfants chinois sont très heureux. Leur culture est valorisée. Un jour, une petite fille jusque-là muette a exprimé des émotions en français. Cette langue qui lui apparaissait sans signification s’est colorée. Quand ça arrive, je suis ravi. Mais on ne peut pas prévoir ce qui va provoquer un déclic. Je donne aussi des cours de chinois aux enfants français. Belleville, c’est Wenzhou à Paris. Tant qu’on croit que l’intégration ne doit se faire que dans un seul sens, on échouera !

(Diatkine, 2007)