Legendary as Légendaire
Thread poster: Preston Decker

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:10
Chinese to English
May 19, 2017

I'm translating a document for a small business. I don't want to disclose their actual name/business, but for the sake of keeping things confidential, we'll call them a watercolor studio (meaning they teach students how to paint in watercolor). A literal translation of the Chinese name for the unique watercolor painting method they've developed would be "Legendary Watercolor". Sounds awkward/tacky in English, but I also like the idea of keeping the translation roughly equivalent to the Chinese. My solution is to call the method "Watercolor Légendaire", using the French "légendaire", which I understand means "legendary" in French. I'm hoping to double check with French speakers/translators on Proz that the word légendaire does indeed mean "legendary", that it has a positive meaning in French, and that it does not carry any inappropriate secondary meanings in French? Also, I'm hoping to confirm that my positioning of "legendaire" after "Watercolor" (i.e. "Watercolor Légendaire” rather than Légendaire Watercolor") seems at least OK to French speakers?

Any feedback is much appreciated. Ultimately, this is a translation aimed at English speakers, but I do want to make sure that it doesn't elicit a strong negative reaction from French speakers!

[Edited at 2017-05-19 00:50 GMT]


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:10
French to English
Approach May 19, 2017

If the name of the method translates literally to "legendary watercolor", then I think you should keep that name. You have mentioned no link with France. Your target readers are native speakers of English and it seems very strange to me to adopt a French term and word order, unless there is some link, however minor or tenuous, to France.

As a native speaker of English, not of French, but someone who has been living in France since 1991, where I see a French term in English, particularly in something artistic, I suppose that it is in reference to a similar French technique with the same or similar name. Why French? If you "back-translate" the idea, would you expect to find a a Chinese term term in an English text that has been translated from French into English where there is no link to China in the original ? I would recommend that you stick to your English choice of term.

For the record, as far as I know, the term "légendaire" has no problematic figurative meanings. Native speakers of French might like to confirm that. It is just the idea of using French at all that seems a bad idea, in my opinion. Is it simply because you think art, you think France? I think it is actually quite a misleading road to go down.

[Edited at 2017-05-19 06:53 GMT]


Amel Abdullah  Identity Verified
Arabic to English
+ ...
Legendary Watercolor May 19, 2017

I actually like "Legendary Watercolor" in English and don't like the sound of "Watercolor Légendaire" in comparison. Perhaps you should do a short survey before making a final decision.


Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:10
Chinese to English
RE May 19, 2017

As mentioned, their actual business is not watercolor at all, but something else entirely ("watercolor" was just a placeholder term so you could see how the term was used); perhaps knowing the exact field and style of the piece would help this make more sense. In any event, I'm confident about the use of this in an English-language transcreation for this particular client.

What I wanted to make sure is that "légendaire" does not instantly bring to mind any extremely negative connotations to mind in French (i.e. anything sexual, lude, etc.), and so thank you Nikki for answering this (and thank you Amel for your thoughts). If anyone else out there is aware of any bad meanings/connotations please do still let me know.

[Edited at 2017-05-19 13:36 GMT]


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:10
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
légendaire May 19, 2017

After over 30 years in France I can't say I know of any bad conotations for this word.

However it occurs to me that the French use it very rarely. I use it in my translations, but usually to translate "mythique", not "légendaire".

I often do transcreation and I often leave bits and pieces in French in my translation, telling my clients that it's for "La French touch". After all if you're translating a piece about the glories of a French city or region in order to attract tourists, you do need the translation to have an authentic feel to it.

I tend to agree with Nikki that if there is no French connection it would be weird to use a French word, especially if it's a French word that Brits don't ever use and, more importantly, that the French hardly use either. I mean, we have imported quite a few French expressions into English. Mostly expressions the French use all the time, that are typical for their culture, for which we have no satisfactory equivalent in English or when, in a spirit of prudery, we like to pretend that it isn't a English thing at all (like "ménage à trois"icon_biggrin.gif )


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Homophone correction : 'lewd' vs 'lude' May 20, 2017

Preston Decker wrote:

What I wanted to make sure is that "légendaire" does not instantly bring to mind any extremely negative connotations to mind in French (i.e. anything sexual, lude, etc.), ...

[Edited at 2017-05-19 13:36 GMT]

Although I'm not French myself, I don't think there are any "lewd" connotations to "legendaire"...

NB: "Lude" is the abbreviation for Quaalude, or Mandrax, as it used to be known in in the UK, a widely abused narcotic tablet.


PS: Personally, I'd be more concerned if the name was "gouache", a word I've never been comfortable having to write or pronounce...icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2017-05-20 08:32 GMT]


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