French Translation: Louis Aragon

This week in my French class, I had to choose a French poem, analyze it, and translate it. I chose Louis Aragon’s Les Oiseaux Déguisés, or Disguised Birds. This poem talks about the duplicity of human nature and the masks that we all wear during our daily lives. The poem and my translation can be found below.

Les oiseaux déguisés

Tous ceux qui parlent des merveilles
Leurs fables cachent des sanglots
Et les couleurs de leur oreille
Toujours à des plaintes pareilles
Donnent leurs larmes pour de l’eau

Le peintre assis devant sa toile
A-t-il jamais peint ce qu’il voit
Ce qu’il voit son histoire voile
Et ses ténèbres sont étoiles
Comme chanter change la voix

Ses secrets partout qu’il expose
Ce sont des oiseaux déguisés
Son regard embellit les choses
Et les gens prennent pour des roses
La douleur dont il est brisé

Ma vie au loin mon étrangère
Ce que je fus je l’ai quitté
Et les teintes d’aimer changèrent
Comme roussit dans les fougères
Le songe d’une nuit d’été

Automne automne long automne
Comme le cri du vitrier
De rue en rue et je chantonne
Un air dont lentement s’étonne
Celui qui ne sait plus prier

Louis Aragon


Disguised Birds

All who speak of wonders
Their fables/tales/stories hide their tears
And the colors of their ear
Always with their same complaints
Give their tears for water

The painter sitting at his canvas
Has he ever painted what he sees
What he sees his story hides
And its darkness creates stars
How singing changes his voice

The secrets all around that he exposes
Are disguised birds
His gaze embellishes everything
And the people take them for roses
The shattered pain

My life far from the strange
that which I am, I left it
And the colors of love have changed
Like scorched ferns
The dreams of a summer night

Autumn autumn long autumn
Like a glazier’s cry
From street to street and I hum
an air which slowly surprises
He who no longer knows how to pray

Through this assignment, I first learned a lot of new vocabulary. Having a good grasp of the French language is imperative in a translation career, and learning any new vocab, even if it’s simply learning the word for ferns (it’s fougères by the way) is helpful.

Next, this course has taught me more about translating narrative things. Before, I had mainly had practice translating more technical things, like business letters, but having a well rounded translation practice background where I can translate both narrative and technical things should be very helpful.

Lastly, I learned that I don’t need to directly translate every word. If I do that in my translations, it ends up sounding forced. Through this assignment, I learned that, if need be, I can translate things to sound more fluid instead of keeping them word for word. That being said, it would probably be necessary to obtain permission from the person I’m translating for, instead of just changing their wording without them knowing it.


Fashion Forecasting Final Project

For my Professional Seminar: Fashion Forecasting class this week, I finished up my final project, creating a fashion forecast for the autumn/winter trends of this year.  The objective of this class is learning how to create a successful prediction for future fashion trends based on, among various factors: knowledge about previous trends, the fashion life cycle, and utilizing fashion forecasting tools.  My forecast, entitled Highland Romance, explores the influence that the Scottish highlands,   luxurious English country homes,  the 1920’s era, and entertainment like Downton Abbey and The Great Gatsby have had on upcoming fashion trends.  My forecast can be viewed below:

Fashion Forecast

Through this project, I first learned about the fundamentals that create a good fashion forecast, which include predicting colors, fabrics, and styles.  I also learned about the different areas in which forecasts are used, which span far beyond  the fashion industry, into areas such as the automobile industry and the food and beverage industry.  This would be helpful in a PR career because to be a successful Fashion Public Relations professional with credibility, you must be able to predict the future, of fashion that is.

Next, creating a successful fashion forecast has to do with knowing history and current events.  For example, knowing how wars affect hemlines or how globalization affects different style choices in different cultures.  This course helped me to brush up on my historical knowledge to better predict future trends.  As George Santayana once said, ” Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  And who wants to be condemned to bad fashion choices, right?  Knowing about history and current events is helpful in a PR career because to be successful in public relations you must be up to date on everything happening in the world, not just in the fashion industry.

Last, fashion forecasting has to do with knowing about different tools available to help fashion forecasters make better predictions.  These include print magazines, online fashion websites such as WWD and, and other websites such as fashion blogs for street style or Pantone for color predictions.  Knowing about these tools are important to anyone hoping to one day work in the fashion industry, not just Fashion PR.  Keeping up to date on new tools available is important because it helps PR professionals stay relevant in their market.

French Translation: Vogue Paris

In my french translation class this week, I had to find an article catered to my major and translate it.  As a fashion lover, I always have fashion magazines lying around, and even have a few in french, thanks to my French pen pal, Jeanne, and the magazine mecca that is Barnes and Noble.  I translated one of my favorite articles, from Vogue Paris’ April 2010 issue, which discusses the life and times of Alexander McQueen.  

The article and my translation can be viewed below:

Alexander McQueen – Vogue Paris April 2010
Alexander McQueen Article English Translation

As a French Translator, you have to be prepared to translate works on very specific topics, each with their own specialized vocabulary.  The fashion industry is one of the areas with very specialized vocabulary.  Translating this article helped me to first, learn the vocabulary necessary to create a successful fashion magazine article translation.  Also, every person writes differently.  The trick in becoming a successful translator is to understand the intricacies of creating an article that is true to the author’s original wording.  This translation helped me to better understand the subtle nuances in  peoples’ writing styles.  Lastly, this translation helped me to better understand how to structure a biographical article so that it isn’t boring, meaning it doesn’t just read from birth to death.  By inserting anecdotes with dates and facts, one can create a more interesting article.

Journalism: Magazine Layout

In my Graphics of Communication class this week, I had to create a news magazine cover and a 4 page spread for an article discussing the rising price of college education.  This magazine cover and spread was designed using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign.  Both of these software products are an integral part of creating traditional media, such as magazines, today.  The magazine cover and spread can be viewed below:
Magazine Cover and Spread

Through this assignment I was able to learn how to design a magazine cover with Photoshop by cropping images and resizing them to fit the cover page dimensions.  I also learned how to design a spread for an article in a magazine by learning where to cut down an article without losing its meaning.  In addition, I learned why different fonts should be used in certain places to optimize readability.  For example, serif fonts should be used in the body of an article because they are easier to read.

This assignment is relevant to a career in Fashion Public Relations/Journalism because Journalism is essentially writing for the mass media, and public relations is tailoring a message to create favorable impressions displayed by mass media.  To create material, be it articles or news releases, that will be more likely to be shown in mass media, such as magazines, newspapers, etc., I have to understand the medium in which my article/news release is going to be shown.  By gaining an insider’s perspective into the process that goes into creating a magazine, I can better tailor an article/news release to fit the needs of the specific medium.

French Composition: Portrait/Description

In my Advanced Composition French class I am taking this semester, I am learning the different types of writing styles that occur most commonly.  This week, I had to turn in “le portrait” or the description.  I had to create a narrative story, that included a description of a character in that story.  I chose to base my story off of the movie Black Swan, and wrote about a former ballerina who had to give up her dreams due to an injury.  Below, I have included my French description and an English Translation of it.

La Ballerine

Elle se trouve assis au bord de la chaise, son regard fixé sur le mur devant elle.  Ses cheveux, longues, fluides, et ondulés, d’un beau châtain, tombe sur ses épaules.  Ses yeux scintillent, couleur sirop d’érable, chauds et rassurants.  Elle s’étire, en montrant son cou allongé.  Un désaccord crée des failles sur son front, entre ses deux sourcils, arqués et fins.  Des fossettes creusent ses joues, en lui donnant une air juvénile.  Sa peau éclat, en donnant l’apparence de la soie.  Ses lèvres, deux croissants de lune, roses et souples, se fendent, révélant ses dents, des perles blanches et chatoyantes.  Sa voix est comme le son des anges, une douceur indescriptible, plus sucrée que le chant des oiseux que s’insinue par la fenêtre ouverte.  Une cicatrice reste sous ses pommettes, plus pâle que le reste de sa peau, un rappel d’une jeunesse passait dans le bois derrière sa maison dans la campagne et des étés passait en chasser ses cinq frères plus âgés.

Un collier d’un seul coeur, petit et délicat se tien au bout de son cou élongé, donnait par son père pour son seizième anniversaire, l’année avant sa mort.  Ses clavicules, droits et pointus, demeurent en dessous de sa chemise rose corail, l’un qui reste un peu plus sinueux que l’autre, un vestige d’une accidente qu’elle a eu pendant son temps comme ballerine à l’Opéra Royaux en Londres.

Elle se lève, ses jambes continuant sans arrêt.  Elle commence à danser, ses yeux fermés, ces cils interminables caressant ses joues. Ses cheveux rebondissent avec chaque pas, aidé par le vent qui entre pour la fenêtre qui reste ouvert.  Ses bracelets tintant avec chaque mouvement de ses mains.  Son pas est la démarche ferme et sûre d’une femme qui connaît son corps complètement.

Elle retourne sur la scène de l’Opéra Royaux.  Elle écoute la respiration étouffée du public. Où son corps fini et où l’air commence, elle ne sait pas.  Elle tourne et tourne, en tissant son corps  avec le vent.  Elle continue à se désosser et serpenter, son corps un élastique pliant.  Elle se démêle, et s’incline à l’applaudissement de ses admirateurs.

Le son de la cloche réverbère partout dans la salle, laissant un écho métallique dans ses oreilles.  « Arrêt de rêver Christine, ton temps comme étoile est fini. »  Elle approche la porte, hoche sa tête, met un sourire sur son visage, et ouvre la porte, au moment qu’un ruisseau d’étudiants commence à entrer dans la salle de classe.


She sits on the edge of the chair, her stare fixed on the wall in front of her.  Her long, fluid hair, a wavy chestnut, falls on her shoulders.  Her brilliant maple syrup eyes, warm and comforting.  She stretches, exposing her long neck.  A disagreement causes creases on her forehead, between her fine, peaked eyebrows.  Dimples hollow out her cheeks, giving her a youthful appearance.  Her skin glows, giving it a silky appearance.  Her lips, two crescent moons, pink and supple, split, revealing brilliant pearly white teeth.  Her voice is that of the angels, an indescribable sweetness, sweeter than the bird’s song that floats in through the open window.  A scar sits just below her cheeks, paler than the rest of her skin, a reminder of a childhood spent in the woods behind her country home, of summers spent chasing her five older brothers.

A heart necklace, small and delicate rests at the base of her neck, given to her by her dad as a sweet 16 present, the year before his death.  Her clavicles, pointed and sharp, lie under her coral blouse, one sitting slightly more peaked than the other, a vestige of her accident during her time as ballerina in the Royal Opera in London. 

She rises, her legs following endlessly.  She begins to dance, eyes closed, eyelashes brushing her cheeks.  Her hair twirls with every step, helped, in part, by the wind blowing in through the still open window.  Her bracelets jingle with her every hand movement.  Her pace the steady and sure walk of a woman who knows her body by heart.

She returns to the Royal Academy Stage.  She hears the hushed breath of the audience.  Where her body stops and where the air starts, she doesn’t know.  She turns and turns, tangling her body with the wind.  She continues her contortions, twisting herself with the wind, her body a pliant rubber band.  She unknots herself, and bows to the applause of her admirers.

The sound of the bell reverberates throughout the room, leaving a tinny echo in her ears.  « Stop dreaming, Christine, » she whispers. « You time as a star of the stage is over. »  She starts towards the door, holds her head high, pastes a smile on her face, and opens the door, as a river of students comes flowing into the classroom.

French translators have to have in depth skill of the French language to be able to effectively create translations for clients.  They also have to be flexible, in that translations can vary from business letters to book translations.  This writing and translation is good practice because I first, had to learn how to create a description by learning what methods are most effective in describing.  By acquainting myself with French writing styles, I can create better translations for clients.  I also learned how to translate a fictional text and try to mimick the tone of the French text in the English text, without the translation seeming “translated”.  I also had to learn how to mimick the language used in the French text, by incorporating words that evoked the same feelings as the French counterparts did.  All of this would help in a career as a translator because becoming a better translator means being able to improve and hone in on your skills in French syntax knowledge, mimicking tone in translations, and mimicking language/words used.