"Modulation" is a translation method consisting in throwing a different light on, or looking from a different angle at, the lines to be translated :

- How long have you been here? : Quand êtes-vous arrivés ? (instead of "Vous êtes là depuis combien de temps ?") (chronological shift)

Two types of modulation are encountered :

1/ metonymical modulation (the cause substituted for the effect, the container for the content, the part for the whole, etc.)

2/ grammatical modulation (affirmative form in English → negative form in french – injunction in English →  interrogation in French – passive voice in English →  active voice in French, etc.).

1/ Metonymical modulation:

- Do it by the book : Faites ça dans les règles (the part to be substituted for the whole)

- She cleared her throat : Elle s'éclaircit la voix (the function to be substituted for the part)

- a life jacket : un gilet de sauvetage (the means to be substituted for the result)

- I've got her under my skin : je l'ai dans la peau (change of location)

- war's wrenching effects on ordinary lives : les effets dévastateurs de la guerre sur le commun des mortels (the people to be substituted for their lives)

2/ Grammatical modulation :

- The houses were all dark : Pas une maison n'avait de lumière (the opposite in the negative form)

- more with rage than timidity : moins par timidité que par colère

- The doors had been taken off their hinges : On avait enlevé les portes de leurs gonds (active instead of passive form)

- He was knee-deep in water : L'eau lui arrivait jusqu'aux genoux (the subject becomes the object)

- How grave he was! : Il était d'un sérieux... (affirmative form to be substituted for exclamative form)

- Singing in the rain : Chantons sous la pluie (injunctive form to be substituted for affirmative form)

More examples : 

- He'd never imagined he would still be acting at 85 : Il était loin de s'imaginer qu'il jouerait encore à l'âge de 85 ans (instead of « Il ne s'était jamais imaginé ... »)

- Keep this to yourself : N'en parle à personne

- lost property : objets trouvés

- goose pimples : chair de poule


Translate into French / Traduire en français

1/ The time has come

2/ Why not keep out cheap imports? :

3/ Who knows? You may be right :

4/ I still think it's too difficult :

5/ This is my first visit to France :


Pour imprimer, passer en mode paysage
To print, use landscape mode

© Christian Lassure - English For Techies

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