© Ugur Akinci
Multi-word phrasal verbs in English is a crucial ingredient of creative writing. It’s hard to write beautiful English, especially when writing dialogs in fiction, without using such phrasal verbs like “figure out” or “call on” etc.
However, in technical writing, phrasal verbs is an open invitation for mistranslations and worse. Here are a few examples of the difficulties one might encounter if an English text with multi-word verbs were translated into French:
How should we translate this? Here are the options:
3. rendre visite à
4. aller voir
5. passer voir
To me “rendre visite à” sounds good but what if the translator chooses “réclamer”?
Can easily be translated as “rester à l’écart” but it should probably be “s’abstenir de”.
Can easily be translated as “donner” or “rendre” but it should really be “capituler”.
Can be easily translated as “trahir” which means “to betray.” Correct translation should be something like “distribuer des prix”.
“Remplir” (to fill) or “étoffer” (to expand)? Both seems off to me. Any help from native French speakers?
The first obvious choice “se lever” of course means “to rise” and is not the correct translation. “Résister” is more like it.