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Dear Mr Pedantic and Calif Jim,

Would you please have a look at my translation ? How can it be improved so that it becomes “excellent” ? I think that my English text is too close to the French one and not idiomatic enough.

Il n’y a pas très longtemps, on encourageait les consommateurs des pays industrialisés à acheter et même à gaspiller de plus en plus de biens, « Plus on jette à la poubelle, plus on prospère » étant le slogan qui avait alors cours. Pendant ce temps, dans les pays en voie de développement, une grande partie de la population était sous-alimentée. Des spécialistes de l’Institut de Technologies du Massachusetts et puis le Club de Rome (qu’est-ce que c’est?) ont mis en garde le monde industriel contre la croissance illimitée; mais la devise: « Ce qui est petit est beau » n’a pas vraiment convaincu, et des hommes et des femmes qui mangent trop continuent à prodiguer temps et argent pour essayer de garder la ligne.
Certains sont prêts à donner une aide en argent, denrées alimentaires et conseillers techniques, quand, de temps à autre, les médias leur rappellent que des dizaines de gens meurent de faim tous les jours.
Peut-être faut-il de l’imagination pour aborder ce problème et le résoudre. Puisque les terres agricoles fertiles sont rares, il dépend de nous de les gérer avec soin.

Le Monde, décembre 1990

Not so long ago (does the phrase “way long ago” exist ?), consumers of / in industrialized countries were encouraged not only to buy but even to waste more and more goods. “The more we waste, the more we prosper” was the prevailing slogan then / was the slogan which was prevailing then. In the meantime, in developing countries, a large / major part of the (world ?) population was underfed. Specialists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Club of Rome (?) warned the industrial world (?) against the unlimited growth, but the credo which said / says (?) “What is small is beautiful” was not really convincing / had not really convinced and men and women who eat too much keep on spending time and money trying to remain slim / to watch their figure.

Some are ready to give / send financial aid, food and technical advisors when, now and then, the media remind them that several (?) people die every day of hunger.

A … of imagination (is there a partitive that can be used with “imagination” here ? Something like “a touch of” = un brin d’imagination) might be needed to deal with then / and solve that problem. Given that / Since fertile / productive farms are rare, it is up to us to manage them with care.

Thank you for your help,
Hela
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Not so long ago consumers in industrialized countries were encouraged to buy, even to waste, more and more goods. "The more we throw away, the more we prosper" was the slogan of the day. At the same time, a large part of the population in developing nations was undernourished. Specialists from MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and then the Club of Rome cautioned the industrial world about unlimited growth, but the motto "Smaller is better" was never very persuasive, and overweight men and women continue to spend inordinate amounts of time and money trying to stay in shape.
Some are willing to contribute money, food, or technical advice when the media remind them from time to time how many people die of starvation every day.
It may take some imagination to approach this problem and solve it. Fertile land is scarce, so it's up to us to manage it carefully.
___________

The Club of Rome is a global think tank and centre of innovation and initiative.
As a non-profit, non governmental organisation (NGO), it brings together scientists, economists, businessmen, international high civil servants, heads of state and former heads of state from all five continents who are convinced that the future of humankind is not determined once and for all and that each human being can contribute to the improvement of our societies.
Comments  
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"consumers in ... countries" is what you need.
"consumers of X" are those who consume X. They aren't consuming the countries!

"... was prevailing then" won't work well. Not recommended. "prevailing slogan" is better.
"large" or "major" - either OK.
"credo" doesn't work for me.
"Small is beautiful" works better than "What is small is beautiful". A motto should be short and to the point.
"who eat too much" seems a little bold and crass. I softened it in my translation!
"dizaine" is a problem, I admit. See my solution. There may be better ones.

Just plain "imagination" is OK. You don't need the partitive in English. I used "some".
"since" is fine, but "rare" has to be changed to "scarce" in my opinion.

Nice work! Emotion: smile
Dear Calif Jim,

Thank you for your help. Before studying your translation carefully I have some questions for you, if you wouldn't mind.

1) Is it correct to say "INDUSTRIAL world" or should I say "INDUSTRIALISED world" ?

2) Is there a difference between "underfed" and "undernourished" ?

3) Is it better to say "Experts" than "Specialists" of / from / at the MIT? Is there a difference between them ?

4) Let's suppose the MIT was called "the Institute of Technology" would we say OF Massachusetts or IN Massachusetts.

5) Is it incorrect to translate "aborder ce problème" by "deal with the problem"? What's the difference ?

Best regards,
Hela
1) Is it correct to say "INDUSTRIAL world" or should I say "INDUSTRIALISED world" ?

"industrialised" is the standard expression.

2) Is there a difference between "underfed" and "undernourished" ?

Yes. If I still feel hungry after eating, I feel underfed! But I'm certainly not undernourished, which is lack of nutritious food over a much longer period of time, also most likely involving disease.

3) Is it better to say "Experts" than "Specialists" of / from / at the MIT? Is there a difference between them ?

Specialists have one small specialty, one small world of study. The opposite is "generalist".
Both specialists and generalists can be experts; neither necessarily is an expert, however, because an expert is someone who knows more than most people within whatever he does, someone whom others come to for advice. I would use "specialists" in this translation.

4) Let's suppose the MIT was called "the Institute of Technology" would we say OF Massachusetts or IN Massachusetts.

It's not likely you would have an institution named with two "of" phrases. Yet, this would be the correct way to phrase it. University of Florida, University of Kentucky, University of Arizona, etc., and Institute of Technology, School of Music, etc., but very rarely, Instutute of Foreign Languages of Montana, School of Dentistry of Texas, etc.

5) Is it incorrect to translate "aborder ce problème" by "deal with the problem"? What's the difference ?

No, it is not incorrect to translate "aborder ce problème" that way. In fact, it's better than "approach the problem", now that I think it over more carefully. You have two verbs in the original, both with the same object. This poses a problem in English, because "deal with" almost includes "aborder" and "resoudre". At least I can think of cases where, when I say "I've dealt with the problem", I mean I've solved it. Frankly, I was thinking of another meaning of "aborder", and I think we can improve on my first suggestion. "aborder" has the sense here of "tackle", "put one's efforts into", "set/get to work on", "take a stab at", and others, not all of which are sufficiently formal to be used in this context. And "undertake" sounds too formal somehow. How about these?

Peut-être faut-il de l’imagination pour aborder ce problème et le résoudre.

It may take some imagination to tackle the problem and solve it.
It may take a bit of imagination to deal with the problem.
It may take a bit of imagination to set to work on the problem and solve it.
Maybe a little imagination will be needed to attack the problem and solve it.

The fun of translation is that there are so many versions to choose from! Emotion: smile

CJ
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