A creative challenge – translating festive wishes in the form of a poem

Just 90 minutes to translate an important poem

 

Just before Christmas, one of our regular clients, Agoria (Belgium’s leading industry federation with over 1,700 member companies) asked us to translate the CEO’s festive wishes.

Nothing unusual about that. Plus, we translate a lot of Agoria documents so what could be the problem?

Well, this time, it was not nearly as simple. They were asking us to translate a poem from Dutch to French in just 90 minutes.

As this was an urgent, not entirely simple task, Fontaine de Mots owner Laura Fontaine de Ghélin decided to do the translation herself.

The challenges:

Well, there were quite a few:

 

  • The deadline was tight and we were already very busy, as it was only a few hours before we closed for Christmas.

 

  • They wanted the poem to rhyme (but thankfully we didn’t have to match the number of syllables and feet exactly).

 

  • We did not have to stick rigidly to the Dutch text but had to keep the key messages.

 

  • It was very difficult to keep some of the expressions and plays on words in French. For example, the Dutch word “punt” right at the beginning literally translates as point – “full stop” or “dot” in English – but can also mean “point”, as in “make a point”, which is phrased differently in French.

 

  • Ideally, we had to keep the reference to the Agoria logo and mention the fact that the point (i.e. dot) that should normally be above the “I” was placed at the beginning of the word, hence the play on the word “punt”.

We have reproduced the translation below (with Agoria’s permission) so you can see for yourself

the merits of a good creative translation (so far removed from a literal translation).

ORIGINAL TEXT

(to be translated)

OUR CREATIVE TRANSLATION

(delivered to Agoria)

Nieuwjaarsboodschap Marc Lambotte

 

Beste vrienden,

Waar de ene eindigt met een punt,
daar start ons punt.
Wij plaatsen geen punt.
Wij maken een punt.

 

Dat punt maakten we in 2017 nog
straffer, sneller, groter, duidelijker.
Zetten we ook in 2018 samen de puntjes op die grote i?
Het is die i van ‘impact’ die Agoria maakt tot wat het is.
Misschien wel meer nog dan die gekke punt vooraan.

 

Wij zijn in de eerste plaats immers een vereniging.
Een vzw, zo staat geschreven.
Een plaats waar mensen mekaar ontmoeten.
Waar wij initiatief en ondernemerschap aanmoedigen.
Waar wij het pad effenen voor vooruitgang, waar dan ook ter wereld, met en voor de technologische sector.

Die rol nemen wij op.
Al zovele jaren.
Het gaat terug tot bij de Oude Grieken.
Op de Atheense Agora kwamen zij,
in de schaduw van de zuilenhallen,
in gesprek tot nieuwe inzichten en ideeën.

Van Agora tot Agoria.
Ons handelsmerk: de i van impact en industrie. Onze zuilen: adviesverlening, de groeimogelijkheden van uw bedrijf
en de creatie van een optimaal ondernemingsklimaat.

 

Voor 2018 geen loze beloftes, goede voornemens of holle frasen.
Ik wens u vooral voldoening, ambitie,
durf en doorzetting,
de zorg voor mekaar,
en de voortdurende passie voor technologie.

Deel dat samen met ons in uw bedrijf, buurt of gezin.

Fijne feesten!

Marc Lambotte

Vœux de Marc Lambotte

 

Chers amis,

Agoria, c’est l’innovation.
Notre logo l’illustre à la perfection.
Pas de point à la fin, synonyme de demain,
Mais un point au début, très inattendu.
Car l’avenir s’écrit aujourd’hui,
En étant tous unis.

En 2017, nous avons à nouveau affiché
Notre différence et notre originalité.
Nos actions furent encore plus marquantes,
Plus grandes et plus bousculantes.
Faisons ensemble de 2018
Une nouvelle réussite !
Car c’est le « i » d’« impact »
Qui résume si bien nos actes.

Nous sommes avant tout une association.
Une asbl, selon l’abréviation.
Un lieu de partage et de rencontres,
Favorisant l’initiative et l’esprit d’entreprise,
Où nous ouvrons la voie au progrès et au succès,
Tant à l’autre bout du monde qu’en Belgique,
Pour et avec le secteur technologique.

Voilà bien des années
Que c’est notre responsabilité.
Ce rôle renvoie à l’Antiquité,
À l’Agora d’Athènes, rassemblant la cité.
Un lieu d’échange et d’inspiration clé,
Où l’on partageait concepts et idées.

L’Agora est devenue Agoria,
Avec le « i » d’« impact » et d’« industrie ».
Notre mission ? Vous donner des conseils à profusion,
Favoriser le développement de votre entreprise,
Valoriser votre expertise,
Et créer un environnement commercial optimal.

Point de promesses en l’air pour 2018.
Je vous souhaite surtout de la réussite,
De l’ambition, de l’audace et de la satisfaction,
De la persévérance et de la bienveillance,
Le tout, assorti d’une dévorante passion pour la technologie.

Partageons ensemble cette belle énergie dans nos entreprises et nos familles !

Joyeuses fêtes !

Marc Lambotte

To help you understand the challenges we faced and how much value a creative translation can add, we asked one of our translators to do something they NEVER do: to produce a very literal translation simply to put the meaning across, without rhyme or any elegant turns of phrase.

Beside this, you will find the creative translation, which is based on the French version we delivered to Agoria.

LITERAL TRANSLATION

(intentionally without rhyme or style)

CREATIVE TRANSLATION

(based on the French translation delivered to Agoria)

New Year’s message from Marc Lambotte

 

Dear Friends,

Where some would end with a point,
our point is at the start.
We don’t place a point.
We make a point.

In 2017 we made that point
even stronger, faster, bigger, clearer.
Shall we also put the dots on that big i together in 2018?
It’s the i for impact that makes Agoria what it is.
Perhaps even more so than that odd point at the start.

Because in the first place we’re an organisation.
A non-profit organisation or ‘vzw’, as it is written.
A place where people meet.
Where we encourage initiative and entrepreneurship.
Where we pave the way for progress, anywhere in the world, with and for the technology sector.

We have taken on this role.
For so many years.
It goes back to the Ancient Greeks.
In the Athenian Agora,
in the shadow of the colonnades,
they reached new insights and ideas through discussion.

From Agora to Agoria.
Our trademark: i for impact and industry.

Our pillars: giving advice, the growth possibilities of your company
and the creation of an optimal business climate.

For 2018, no empty promises, good intentions or hollow phrases.
Above all, I wish you satisfaction, ambition,
daring and perseverance,
care for one other,
and the constant passion for technology.

Share these things with us in your company, neighbourhood or family.

Season’s greetings!

Marc Lambotte

Marc Lambotte’s festive wishes

 

Dear friends,

At Agoria, innovation is key.
From our logo it’s plain to see.
No full stop, we’re future-led,
so it comes at the start instead
Because the future begins today
and working together is the only way.

We are first and foremost an association,
not-for-profit is our motivation.
Corporate spirit, networking and success
are values we promote to encourage progress.
In Belgium, of course, but other lands too,
with technology at the heart of what you do.

In 2017 we were so proud
to be original, stand out from the crowd.
Our initiatives certainly made their mark,
bigger, better and full of spark.
So, let’s make 2018 even better,
make the “i” in impact the key letter.

Because Agoria is Agora with a letter “i”,
referring to Athens in days gone by.
A place for gathering and inspiration,
where key ideas inspired a nation.
Today it’s our turn to take on the role,
help you grow, your virtues extol.

“I” is for “impact” and “industry” too,
at the heart of everything we do for you.
Dispensing advice is our mission,
helping you gain vital recognition.
Creating an environment that’s simply the best,
helping you grow is our ultimate quest.

No empty promises for the coming year,
just best wishes for all you hold dear.
Success, perseverance and satisfaction,
great results from every action,
To technology we are dedicated,
and this is something to be celebrated.

Let us share this energy with our companies and families.

Happy New Year!

Marc Lambotte


Translation French>English and Dutch>English: translation agency Fontaine de Mots

Translated by: Alison Hughes (blog article + creative translation) & Philip Lucien (literal translation)
Edited by: Moira Bluer
Fontaine de Mots

Author Fontaine de Mots

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