The Valerian translation project (1)
I was worried that I'd look at the first page and it would be complete gibberish to me, but in fact I was pleasantly surprised by how much of it I could read, even though my program of building on the french I learned at school is only up to lesson 6 (of 90) of Pimsleur's Learn French course, and I don't expect it to include words like spatio-temporel.
Even so, the words that I don't get in the sentances are usually the important ones, so I'm going to have to look a lot of it up. Looking around at what is available I decided first port of call would be Google's automatic translation service. Here's the text of the opening page in french:
Noirs espaces infinis de l'univers, soleils brulants eclairant des terres in connues. Combien de milliards de civilisations d'etres vivants pouvez-vous abriter?
And Google's translation:
Blacks infinite spaces of the universe, suns brulants lighting of the grounds in known. How many billion civilizations alive beings can you shelter?
Not bad for a machine, although when there are several likely meanings to a word the choice you get seems pretty random. The only word it rejects completely is brulant, and it doesn't even get brûler (meaning to burn) without the accent.
So correcting the mistakes and rearranging it into something that makes sense in english, what do we get? How about:
The black infinite spaces of the universe, punctuated by the light of stars that brighten the known worlds. How many billion living civilisations do you shelter?
Could be better, but I think it gets the sense across.
On to page 2. Well, page 4 actually, since it is numbered from the title page.
To start with I was flying along, only needing to check the occasional word here or there.
In a remote galaxy one planet forms the centre of an immense solar system.
It is Syrte the Magnificent, capital of the Empire of a Thousand Planets.
Syrte, with its fabulous imperial palace, houses the last descendent of a dynasty which, since the dawn of time, has extended its influence over all of the planets of the system.
Only the accredited ambassadors of the empire and the prince's favourites may penetrate the heavily guarded palace.
But then I ran into a problem.
Le peuple qui souvent se presse au pied l'edifice ne peut qu'entendre les echos de fetes mysteriouses.
Which Google tells me means:
the people which often press with the foot the building can only hear the echoes of fetes mysteriouses.
I don't get this. Who are the people referred to here and why/how are they listening to the echoes of mysterious fate by pressing their feet against the building? Is it a mistranslation or a colloquialism that is zooming over my head?
But Syrte is the great marketplace of the empire. In the souks and along the canals one can find anything one's heart desires. The merchants of the empire scour the outer worlds to bring back innumerable wonders.
That wasn't so hard.
Now if only someone a little more gifted with la francais can help me with the whole foot pressing business I can continue.