Bonjour! I have two questions related to the first sentence of this exercise. Firstly, why does the first part of the sentence translate to 'Lille is less than two hours away by train' when the original sentence to translate was 'Lille is less than a couple hours away' (i.e. no specific duration). Additionally, why do we use 'ce qui en fait' instead of 'ce que le fait'? Merci beaucoup!
Freeform Writing Exercise C1
That's an excellent question!
- In French, "a couple (of) + [word]" would tend to be translated by "deux + [word]" if the [word] is specific, such as "a couple of hours". If it is in an expression such as "a couple of tools" (we don't know which ones exactly), then it would be translated by "deux ou trois / quelques outils".
- "Ce qui en fait": here the pronoun "en" replaces "de + [phrase]" because of the expression used, "faire de [quelque chose] quelque chose"
ce qui fait (de Lille) une excellente destination-> ce qui en fait une excellente destination
ce qui fait (de cet article) une excellente description-> ce qui en fait une excellente description
I hope this is helpful.
Bonne journée !
@Céline: I think the first sentence of this exercise is misleading. One wouldn't say "less than a couple of hours" unless one is French and interprets this as "less than 2 hours". I completely understand Victoria's confusion and believe that a lot of students would trip up at this.
Therefore, I would either translate the English term "a couple of hours" to French as the proper meaning intended by a native English speaker -- quelques heures -- or say "two hours" in the English text.
In this exercise the primary language is English, so it is perfectly reasonable to use ‘deux heures’ as a French translation of the English expression ‘couple of hours’. The argument is that ‘couple’ in English is imprecise - which it may or may not be, and would only be known by context. On the other hand, ‘quelques heures’ in French does not mean less than a couple (two), but would definitely be interpreted by a French speaker as the equivalent of ‘a few, but not a lot’. A translator would choose depending on their interpretation, and as it is actually possible to do the trip in WELL under 2 (a couple of) hours on Eurostar a knowledgeable translator would opt for the more accurate ‘deux heures’.
After discussing this topic with the French language team, we've made the decision to change the English sentence to "Lille is less than two hours away by train from London" so as to avoid any ambiguity.
Thank you all for your feedback!
Merci et bonne journée !
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