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an excellent plan, but the only one by which people can learn any language properly,—that is, if they wish to get a fair insight into its idioms and genius.
In the fourth place, I have followed, throughout the book, a system of copious references to former notes,-a feature which I deem as important as it is novel in a work of this kind. The great advantage, in an educational point of view, of giving merely a hint instead of a translation, where a hint only is required, is obvious. Besides this, nothing enables us to understand the various acceptations of a word and uses of a phrase, better than seeing the same word in different sentences, and the same phrase in different combinations.
With regard to the amount of help, in the shape of renderings, it will be perceived that the notes are copious in the first part of the book, and gradually decrease in number towards the end. This has been done with the double view, of placing the work within the reach of every class of students, and of making it progressive.
As to the grammatical points, it could not be expected that I should notice them all. Something has necessarily been left for the teacher to explain : I have confined myself to the more important features.
And now, with reference to the extracts celected for translation.
That a book composed of extracts on various subjects and from various writers, and consequently offering great diversity of styles, facts, and words, is beyond comparison preferable, for the purpose of translation, as well as of general information, to a book all along in the same strain, (whether a collection of letters, or a connected story, &c., as most of the works now in use,) and by the same author, is a position too self-evident to require particular proof.1 Were it only for the reason that the student, as I have invariably found, becomes quite disgusted with his monotonous work before he has gone through many pages, the inducement thus held out to adopt a plan different from that of such tedious and uncouth kinds of so-called educational works, would of itself be sufficient.
In the present selection, most of the extracts are short, they are all lively and interesting, written with spirit, taken from standard works, and consist chiefly of narrations, good examples of conversational English, familiar letters, &c. I have, in fact, endeavoured to adapt this work to the wants of our age—to make a thoroughly modern book. Looking at the purpose for which people, generally, learn French, I have not limited the selection to such authors as would be called English classics. I have thought it desirable to keep in view, likewise, the class of students who now submit themselves to examinations for the civil and military services. I have selected copiously from writers of the day; it being, in my opinion, an essential point to have modern English to translate into modern French, I have chosen, especially for those students destined to naval life, the piece headed "A Sea-Fog and Wreck," by Capt. Basil Hall ; to such as are destined to undergo military examinations and to lead a military life, I would strongly recommend the Battles at the end of the work. These also have been selected with peculiar care. They are five remarkable contests, belonging to different epochs of history, and calculated to afford most accurate and im
1 “Il faut traduire sur toutes sortes de matières et d'après tous les auteurs, sans quoi la connaissance de la langue restera toujours innparfaite.”—DIDEROT.
portant information about the military art and modes of fighting in ancient, middle-age, and modern times. Finally, all the extracts contained in this volume are essentially fitted to improve the feelings, as well as the understanding, of young people.
One word more. The superiority of a work of this nature, likewise over books containing merely detached sentences, is unquestionable, with regard to the purpose of connected composition: those persons who use exclusively the latter kind of books can pretend to nothing higher than rambling tasteless effusions. I also entirely agree with a well-known confrère of mine in London, that “the pupil will gain much more real knowledge by translating into French the peculiar expressions of genuine English, than by retranslating English versions into the original French.”
With these general observations, I now leave this work to the appreciation of the judicious friends of education.
F. E. A. G.
BRIGHTON, January, 1858.
PRACTICAL HINTS TO TRANSLATORS.
My young readers must not suppose that I am going to give them here a particular secret for a perfect translation. The method of translating perfectly is too easy of explanation to require many words: it consists simply in being thoroughly acquainted with the language from which and that into which we translate. This every one knows well enough, without being told. I intend merely to give directions to the student, by means of which he will be enabled to make the most of his acquired knowledge-whatever degree it may have reached, --so as to produce a better translation than he could have done with the same amount of knowledge, but if left to his own unassisted efforts to turn it to account.
There are, in every translation, as in every composition in any single language, two things to be considered, namely, words, separately, which represent simple ideas, and phrases, or the association of the words into a more or less complex form of thought.
First, as to “words.” So far as the generality of words are concerned, your safest guide will be a dictionary in which the French words corresponding to the English are given accurately, The most accurate and complete dictionary of the English and French languages now in existence, is, I hardly need say it, that of Dr. Spiers. But what I should wish particularly to direct your attention to, is, the danger of being misled, -unless you consult your dictionary every time you are not positively certain of your own knowledge, by the great likeness of many French and English words which, though having a similar origin, differ, sometimes rather widely, in their meaning. For instance :Emphase is used, in the English sense of 'emphasis,' only as a rhetorical term; in ordinary language it is taken in a bad sense, and means "bombast.' Altération signifies alteration' only from good to bad, whilst changement is the word that corresponds to 'alteration' in its general acceptation. Métropole does not answer to 'metropolis' (see page 69, note 13, of this volume, for a full explanation). Concurrence’ is, in French, concours, or coopération, and concurrence means 'competition'. 'Editor' (of a
newspaper) is, in French, rédacteur, whilst éditeur is the name for a "publisher;' the same difference is observable in libraire, ‘bookseller,' and bibliothécaire, ‘librarian ;' librairie, ‘bookseller's shop,' and bibliothèque, library;' tuteur, guardian,' and précepteur, tutor,' &c. In the course of my work I have noticed others, in their proper place. I need not make more than a passing allusion to those words the orthography only of which is slightly different (ex., sollicitude, solicitude, littérature, 'literature,' &c.); but this particularity is worth alluding to, as the difference, being slight, is apt, on that very account, not to be thought of or noticed, and mistakes with regard to such words are the more easily and naturally made.
Again, one English word only may be used both in a proper and in a figurative sense, whilst in French, there will often be two words to correspond to it, one for the proper and the other for the figurative sense. The well-known story of Young, the author of the Night Thoughts, writing, with the best intentions, a somewhat unpalatable compliment, in French, to Fénelon, the author of Télémaque, and archbishop of Cambrai, is a striking example of the errors into which a neglect of this distinction between the various acceptations of a word will often lead even persons accustomed to write—and to write well-in their native tongue, when they attempt to express themselves in a foreign language.
A similar distinction must be made between a word as applied to persons, and as applied to things : thus, une personne économe, an economical person, and un procédé économique, “an economical process.'
In conclusion, be careful in the use of the words which you happen to know, or which you find in your dictionary, and always begin by ascertaining whether they do entirely correspond to the English words in the particular instance under your consideration.
I have treated of words, first, because, in one sense, they claim priority over phrases, of which they are the constituent elements. But you should, however, not lose sight of this point, namely, that the first thing to be done, when translating an expression, is to consider whether the whole expression has not, in French, another turn, instead of beginning at once to translate, individually, the words of which it is composed.
Next, as to “phrases." Phrases exhibit a more decided stamp of peculiarity than words do, even in those languages containing alike much of the Latin and Greek elements. I am not speaking of the grammatical construction alone, but more especially of the peculiar shape, independently of grammatical rules,—of the
(1) The details of this may be found in the Preface to Dr. Spiers' Dictionary.