Foreignness

J’ai l’impression d’habiter un rêve étrange.

Most translators working for the big publishers would, I’m pretty sure, render this: “I have the impression of inhabiting a strange dream.”

Seriously. I’ve come across dozens of similar examples in recent weeks. Why not just “I feel like I’m in a strange dream.”?

Canada’s “big” translators seem set on making sure our reading experience is as foreign as possible, that we never forget we’re reading a translation from a foreign language.

They’re not wrong, but I don’t agree with their approach. I come from a different school of thought. One that believes we should write what the author would have written had they been writing in English. After all, if it doesn’t sound foreign in the original French, why must it sound foreign in English translation? Otherwise, I have the impression of reading a strange English.