Hockey terms on my mind

I’ve just spent a fun half-hour putting off translating more of my book reading the French version of Breakaway: Jessie on my mind by Sylvain Hotte (Aréna: Panache). I read the book in English first because I was curious about the types of books Baraka Books of Montréal published and seeing this novel on their list convinced me they were the publisher to pitch my translation of I Hate Hockey to.

I wasn’t disappointed, by Baraka or by Jessie on my mind. No wonder Casey Roberts won the John Glassco prize for his translation.

For those who are interested, here’s the blurb:

Alexandre McKenzie lives on North Shore of the St. Lawrence River. In summer he rides the logging trails on his quad. Come winter he is a promising young hockey star who seeks solitude at a bush camp by the frozen lake. But when he plunges into a relationship with a girl plagued by tragedy, things turn ugly. Fighting his own demons Alex fights to hold his head high, like the bull moose that haunts him from the moment he meets Jessie. Break Away, Jessie on my mind tells of friendship, family, pride and love. It’s a story that could happen wherever winter, hockey, and young people come together.

As I read the English, I wrote down all the great, slangy English expressions that made me wonder what on earth the French had been. And tonight I found out. Nice job, Casey! To pick just a few examples, “menait 2-1” became “nursed a 2-1 lead”, “n’importe quoi” became “a crock”, and “wicked” was used to add a bit of flavor to “magnifique” and even “très”.

I doubt very much that any French-English dictionary would ever suggest “wicked” as a translation for “très” and yet it couldn’t have worked better here.

All in all, it was a fun way to spend half an hour and I think I’m going to start my own lexicon of literary translations terms, the way I would for any other client. It could all come in very handy in the future, and not just for my next hockey novel.

2 thoughts on “Hockey terms on my mind

  1. So, did you ever end up creating your own lexicon or glossary? If so, would you mind sharing what program you used? I'm trying to find something better than Excel for myself, but everything else I've found is linked to a CAT tool, which is pointless to use in literature.Thanks again for the wonderful blog!

  2. Hi, sunshineabroad! As it happens, no I've never got round to making my own lexicon, although it remains on my to-do list. For my general freelance work, I have around a dozen lexicons spread across as many Excel files (grouped by client and sometimes topic) and have been meaning to merge everything into one big file and have a bit of a clean-up some day. After thinking it over, I think what I'm going to do is to have one big Word file with the French on one line in 16 pt and the English translation below it in 12 pt. No messing about with columns or sources. I'll put everything in alphabetical order regardless of field and just do a CTRL+F search every time I want to look for a term.And, on a related note, this week I read 10 Things You Should Know About Automatic Terminology Extraction (, which has me thinking I might give TermWiki a try.Let me know if you come up with anything better!

Comments are closed.