Lost in Translation

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by Neil Godfrey

I have been attempting to locate a copy of a French language book at a reasonable cost and after some machine or app communication I attempted a “direct” approach, contacting one book seller in France directly (I am in Australia). I ran my subject header through Google Translate first:

Request for ‘title of the book’

and it came out

Demande de ‘titre de livre’ . . .

I baulked at the idea of “demanding” a title from a bookseller but finally decided that the French “demande” did not sound quite as “demanding” as it did in English, so I sent it anyway.

I then received a courteous reply:

Nous sommes désolés mais nous n’avons pas ces ouvrages . . . .

Now that made me feel really bad. They are “desolated” at not being able to provide me with the title I want.

“Sorry” would have been fine. Even a simple “regret”. But “désolés“? Oh my god, the trauma I have sprung on the other side of this planet!


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Neil Godfrey

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