Overall, it has taken about a year to get through our process. Of course Peyo had other translation projects to work on so he wasn't on this full time. Plus, our process allowed for a fair amount of down time. Essentially, it went as follows:
- Peyo would translate 50 pages on his own, run them by a fellow professor of French, and then email them to me.
- I would read the 50 pages carefully, making comments on anything that needed attention: typos, misunderstanding of certain colloquial expressions, issues with tone and imagery.
- Peyo and I would meet in person or via Skype and would review and discuss each change. Usually it took about 3 hours to get through 50 pages - some of our discussions turned into debates, usually about tone, style and how pacing needs to change in French.
For the Shaggy Dog Stories, we finally decided to translate them into French, then to add a footnote to explain the play on words in English. I think this reads well.
We got through the final 50 pages in October and began the somewhat arduous process of reassembling and reformatting the document. It may seem like a minor issue, but in French, quotation marks are followed by a space. Question marks, exclamation points, colons, and semi-colons are preceded by a space. While MS Word inserts these for the French Language, the version of Word that Peyo used would line wrap them and sometimes we'd end up with a question mark, exclamation point, colon, etc. alone on a line. Or they'd split oddly across lines. I finally figured out how to force Word to use non-breaking spaces with these characters and the document cleaned up nicely.
I forwarded the reassembled book to a French friend and she tore through it, finding countless typos and making a number of suggestions. Peyo reviewed and incorporated these and today, I sent copies out to a well-known French author and to two friends who claim to be Monsieur and Madame Tout-le-Monde. They wanted to be among the first to read the book. I've asked them to be brutally honest. Specifically, I want to know:
- What do they think of the story (of course)?
- Do they think it would appeal to a French audience and if so, who would like it?
- How is the translation - does it come across as too literary for a psychological thriller? Did the dialogue match up with the characters and their personalities?
Wish us luck!