30 December 2014

News article links directly to dictionary

In her article entitled Tips on career rebounds for French socialists and CEOs alike in the 29 December 2014 issue of the Financial Times, Herminia Ibarra, professor of organisational behaviour at Insead business school, introduced a type of link that I have not seen previously.

In the passage
The benefits of this strategy of reculer pour mieux sauter are one reason why going back to school is such a popular tool for personal reinvention.
The expression reculer pour mieux sauter appears in italics and in blue to indicate an underlying link. The innovation lies in the fact that the link is to an online dicationary, specifically the Merriam-Webster online dicationary.
That the author, who is based in France and writing about a French ex-minister, should wish to use an excellent French idiom is hardly surprising. But to use the expression without further explanation while providing a link directly to a dictionary for the benefit of anyone not familiar with it, is both effective and innovative.

What about a translation?

A quick check using Linguee suggests that the expression frequently challenges translators. (None of the equivalents available as of this writing -- including preparing to move ahead, go back to take abetter jump forward, pull back and re-engage, and take a step back to see the big picture -- is anywhere near as effective as the original.)

Termium has a discussion of the expression here, including detailed treatment of the expression's usage with both positive and negative connotations.

To me, the Merriam-Webster translation "to draw back in order to make a better jump" sounds a little awkward. Perhaps "to pull back for a better run-up" or "to move back for a better leap", provided of course, that the connotation is positive. "Strategic retreat" is also useful on occasions.

Collins online French-English dictionary gives "(figurative) to put off the inevitable" while another edition gives "to put off the evil day", presumably for instances where the French is used figuratively and with a negative connotation.

In the passage quoted above, one reasonably satisfactory translation solution would be:
The benefits of this strategic retreat are one reason why going back to school is such a popular tool for personal reinvention.

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