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témoigner

English translation: to document reality

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14:27 Feb 16, 2007
French to English translations [PRO]
Photography/Imaging (& Graphic Arts) / Photographer bios
French term or phrase: témoigner
Been teasing me for a while. I came up with a good idea once, in a pub probably, and I can't remember what it was. A tribute to Magnum:

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, David Seymour et George Rodger étaient tous des photographes de guerre lorsqu’ils se réunirent pour fonder Magnum, en 1947. La plus haute idée du « photojournalisme » les habitait. La plus prestigieuse des agences de photographes, est demeuré jusqu’à ce jour fidèle à cette mission : **témoigner**.

It's something that comes back frequently in writing about photography. The dictionary definitions are "testify", "bear witness" and "show". The more I encounter the word the more I think the equivalent in English is something more straightforward: "show it how it is", "portray the events". Anybody any ideas for it in this context?
Cheers
jonno
Local time: 11:43
English translation:to document reality
Explanation:
ok, it's not a completely original thought, but the source is very pertinent; I pulled down my copy of "degrees" for inspiration, and found this phrase at the top of the intro: "the founders' commitment to the medium itself, to the belief that photography has a unique capacity to document reality, ..."

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Note added at 1 hr (2007-02-16 15:48:31 GMT)
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mind you, I would still see nothing wrong with "bear witness" -- just because it's staring at you in the dico doesn't mean it's too obvious to be the right word.
Selected response from:

Martin Cassell
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:43
Grading comment
I'd like to have split the points, because the question has brought out some interesting reflections on the job. This page is the ultimate reference page for the way to translate the word "témoigner" in relation to photography, depending on the tone you need. I went with "to document reality" first but changed it to "the world" because of the context (apologies Conor). This answer was the first use of "document" which turned out to be a good word in the context in my context (the text went on to talk about aesthetics and Marilyn Monroe, women, watches and the world, so it was good to have a word that one associates less with stardom). In another piece (another photographer) I might have chosen the understatement of "show", in a more earnest piece I might have used "document our times". In a chattier piece, I would have gone for "window on the world". Thanks indeed to everyone for this one and I can go home lighter with the nice feeling that one more nagging question has been dragged kicking and screaming from the back of my mind and soothed with the milky bottle of your ever reliable imaginations.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +1bear witness / report / see also below for brainstorming
Conor McAuley
4 +1to document reality
Martin Cassell
3to eyewitnessMatthewLaSon
3to put events (/people etc) on recordkatsy


Discussion entries: 8





  

Answers


1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
to document reality


Explanation:
ok, it's not a completely original thought, but the source is very pertinent; I pulled down my copy of "degrees" for inspiration, and found this phrase at the top of the intro: "the founders' commitment to the medium itself, to the belief that photography has a unique capacity to document reality, ..."

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2007-02-16 15:48:31 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

mind you, I would still see nothing wrong with "bear witness" -- just because it's staring at you in the dico doesn't mean it's too obvious to be the right word.

Martin Cassell
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:43
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 16
Grading comment
I'd like to have split the points, because the question has brought out some interesting reflections on the job. This page is the ultimate reference page for the way to translate the word "témoigner" in relation to photography, depending on the tone you need. I went with "to document reality" first but changed it to "the world" because of the context (apologies Conor). This answer was the first use of "document" which turned out to be a good word in the context in my context (the text went on to talk about aesthetics and Marilyn Monroe, women, watches and the world, so it was good to have a word that one associates less with stardom). In another piece (another photographer) I might have chosen the understatement of "show", in a more earnest piece I might have used "document our times". In a chattier piece, I would have gone for "window on the world". Thanks indeed to everyone for this one and I can go home lighter with the nice feeling that one more nagging question has been dragged kicking and screaming from the back of my mind and soothed with the milky bottle of your ever reliable imaginations.
Notes to answerer
Asker: You're quite right, it's short, it's high minded, but there's just this funny feeling about the term: témoigner when talking about photographers, in a real-life context, we would really use "bear witness" and a more descriptive phrase. In a reread I did recently, the translator put it in scare marks. Fear is a very infectuous thing (if you let it in).


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Tony M
35 mins
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
to put events (/people etc) on record


Explanation:
another suggestion, c'est tout.... - agree that it's a verb used so (over?) much in French; am equally interested to see what's proposed!

katsy
Local time: 11:43
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8
Notes to answerer
Asker: Cheers a lot for the reflection...

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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
bear witness / report / see also below for brainstorming


Explanation:
They are photo journalists, so they report, in photos.

be the public's window on the world

(just because it's one word in France doesn't mean you can't use more in your version.)

More eye-related:

be people's eye on the world

http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q="eye on the world"&meta=

photo reportage

bring the world to the people in photos

(sounds vaguely like a mission statement, which in fact it should, as this is these photographers' mission statement)

photograph important world events

document the world in photos

(this one I used recently)

record the world in photos

provide (people) (with) a visual record of the world


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Note added at 1 hr (2007-02-16 15:31:42 GMT)
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(correction of above: in French)

All the best ideas come to you in the pub Jonno, it's a well-known fact, always carry a notepad!

(Not Magnum PI, then? Mission statement: "Have a big moustache and look cool and fly helicopters"!)

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Note added at 2 hrs (2007-02-16 17:16:18 GMT)
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document our times

document history in the making

document the world we live in today

document our world

The grander, the better!

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Note added at 2 hrs (2007-02-16 17:18:55 GMT)
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document modern times

document modernity

document the times we live in

open people's eyes



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Note added at 2 hrs (2007-02-16 17:19:49 GMT)
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document the modern world

document the contemporary world

ok I'll stop now

Conor McAuley
France
Local time: 11:43
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
Notes to answerer
Asker: Take a notepad? That was another idea I must have had in the pub. I'll definitely bear it in mind. It was news to me too that Robert Capa was behind the agency, I was sure it was Tom Selleck. BTW thanks for the answers, v. good. Nice ideas.

Asker: I can feel the sparks fly from here. Soothe your mind with a cool glass of something. Great stuff. I like the approach.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Cetacea: If you've ever seen the work of these guys, especially their war photography, you know that's exactly what they wanted to do: bear witness.
1 hr
  -> Thanks Cetacea!
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
to eyewitness


Explanation:
Hello,

This is my understanding in this context: to actually see it and give a firsthand account of it through pictures.

I hope it helps.


MatthewLaSon
Local time: 05:43
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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