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How should one translate writing errors?

I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between my lack of understanding of French sentence composition and what appear to be poor sentence structure (e.g., run-on sentences, dropped conjunctions, etc.). Here's an example:

"Le pangolin a des yeux de taupe, il est myope."

I translate this as "The pangolin has mole-like eyes and is myopic." -or- "With mole-like eyes, the pangolin is myopic." instead of "The pangolin has mole eyes, it is myopic." which is improper English (comma with no conjunction separating independent clauses).

but this obviously breaths composition into the sentence that wasn't there. I know we're supposed to interpret the intended meaning and translate the idea into an appropriate English sentence, but I don't think we're to 'correct' writing style.

How should we handle this? Is even my example a misunderstanding of French sentence structure?

November 12, 2012



Actually, this very sentence is correct. Alternatively, you could change the comma for a semi-column or a full stop. I would have translated it like that : 'the pangolin has mole-like eyes; it is myopic". More generally speaking, the trouble is that French texts proposed for translations here are of very different quality in terms of language. There are often spelling mistakes, construction mistakes, a bit of slang here, useless English words there, etc. You obviously cannot correct these and I believe the best you can do is to translate in what you believe is the more correct & more direct English. Other learners (at least Anglos) will then judge your work with their own appreciation of what is right.


It is what I would call "une mise en apposition", where short sentences are put one after another, with commas in between, as a stylistic manner to simplify the writing. You may like it or not, but it is frequent in contemporary literature.


Does that mean that in French it's usual to use a comma where in English one would have to use either of a conjuction or a semi-colon? I've noticed this happens quite often.


Thanks, that's helpful

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