I love creating bastards
Quel est le comble pour un concepteur-rédacteur?
Devoir traduire son travail dans une autre langue
What’s the blame for a copywriter?
Translate its work into another language.
Here’s where I am right now.
I’m French and decided to become a copywriter, but not in my country; it would have been too easy. In London, where puns and accents are kings and queens. It’s hard sometimes to understand, but this is what makes the charm of a new language., and I love that.
The other interesting aspect is that the further I dive into English, the more I lose my French. It’s studies certified that when you’re learning a new language, you are more likely to make mistakes in your native language. And I can see how accurate it is when returning to my homeland and getting corrected by my entourage, which isn’t suitable for a future copywriter!
Mes mots sont des bâtards rejetés par leurs deux parents: la France et l’Angleterre.
My words are bastards rejected by their two parents: France and England.
I know I still have improvements to make.
And it’s frustrating to hear beautiful sentences coming from my colleagues’ brains while only being able to write a child’s book copy. At least everybody understands, but I want to sprinkle my work with poetry and make it pretty on the outside.
So how do I become a better non-English-native copywriter? One mentor advised me to put down my words in French and then translate them into any language I wanted. I had never done it before because it sounded like laziness to me. But it was worth trying for copywriting. And it was nice at first, but maybe too nice. Sentences came up naturally to me, and I could twist words more easily.
And what should have happened, happened: I fell into google translations’ platforms trap. You’re too comfortable in your language, and your uniqueness, core, and peps are lost in translations. So the bit of myself I found in my French sentences was deformed in another language. Here’s a quick example of how bad it can be.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
In case you don’t know it like I did, this is “Invictus” from William Ernest Henley, a famous British poet. And here’s what it sounds like after several translations:
The darkness of the night enveloped me.
A pillar as black as a fountain.
There I gave thanks to the gods.
For my unbearable soul.
At the same moment I fell.
I did not fear, I did not cry out.
I fell asleep under the pillar.
My head was bloody, but not bruised.
Behind me, anger and tears.
Above me, only shadowy fear.
But the danger of the hour is.
Call me and you will see that I am not afraid.
It doesn’t matter if the door is narrow.
It doesn’t matter if the door is full.
I am master of my fate.
I am master of my soul.
It seems like someone trying to speak English without any will and giving us to read dismembered bastards.
To sum up: Am I fucked?
Are my bastards’ sentences really a bad thing? It would have been easier for me to become an art director than a copywriter, so why did I choose a more difficult path?
Because it’s liberating.
It frees your brain from the language’s standards simply because your brain mixes all of them up. It brings ideas that arise from a misunderstanding. How often did I interpret something other than what my colleagues meant to say that gave us new angles to explore?
My advertising partner said I have my own slang, and I like that.
The weird twist of words that you read through my article is all here on purpose (well, most of them). It’s from me, and it can lead to creative ideas, unusual copy, as well as total shit and raise eyebrows from the crowd.
And I love that.
Sincerely yours. Emma.