Translation excerpt from The Woman Who Played Chess, by Bertina Henrichs (La Joueuse d'échecs, Editions Liana Levi)

Summer was just beginning. Like she did every day, Eleni climbed the little hill separating the Hotel Dionysos from the city center, just as the sun was coming up over the horizon.
     The hill was a sandy, craggy terrain vague with a spectacular view of the Mediterranean and the Portara to the Temple of Apollo. The ancient edifice had never been completed, its conception perhaps too grandiose, and so its imposing gate on the peak of the tiny Naxian islet opened onto nothing but sea and sky. At night, unable to provide shelter for Apollo, it exchanged the god for its icon and welcomed instead the setting sun, idolized by the dazzled tourists. Apollo, more reserved in his earthly manifestations, would certainly have attracted only a few enlightened souls, so the temple’s incompleteness was not to be lamented. On the contrary, it gave an air of mystery to this harsh speck of land in the Aegean.
    Eleni didn’t even glance at the stage being set behind her. It was too familiar. The scene with its ever-changing spectators, that incessant flow of wanderers coming from afar then leaving, had provided the backdrop for her entire life.
    The hill was particularly quiet this morning. The wind had come up during the night and was blowing hard, muffling the sounds of the awakening city. All Eleni heard was the crunch of pebbles under her feet and the panting of a stray dog scavenging for his breakfast. Pickings were lean. The brooding look on his face brought a smile to Eleni’s. She promised herself to bring him some leftover bread from the hotel kitchen.

    When she arrived in the lobby of the Dionysos at ten past six, she was met with a booming, “Kalimera, Eleni. Ti kanis?”  from the hotel director. The sincerity and enthusiasm of the cheerful greeting would have led an unknowing bystander to think that it had been a while since the two women had seen each other. However the naturally affable Maria, in her sixties, was simply in the habit of greeting people this way, forcing a bit on the good humor. The tactic effectively eliminated any irritability, which Maria tolerated solely from the hotel guests. Even then she ignored it, suddenly speaking English less well than she usually did. Working hard under a stiflingly hot sun while brooding was a flaw for which she felt too old. As always, Maria served an espresso to her employee before Eleni changed into her pistachio green smock and began her rounds.
    She knew each gesture by heart, performed the tasks mechanically, one after the other, always in the same order. Twenty rooms, forty beds, eighty white towels; the number of ashtrays to be emptied varied. [...]
Translation of an article by Martin Ouellet appearing in the online edition of Le Devoir on 21 August 2013 under the title: "L'interdiction des symboles religieux serait une erreur, selon Charles Taylor"

Philosopher Charles Taylor maintains that it would be a serious mistake for the Parti québécois to ban the wearing of religious symbols in public institutions. He drew a parallel between the proposal and the errors committed by Vladimir Putin's government in Russia.

During an interview Tuesday with La Presse canadienne, the co-president of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodations didn’t mince words in his denouncement of the measures mentioned Tuesday by the Journal de Québec. He said he feared the exclusion of entire communities from the public sector’s job market, because of their religious convictions.

“Let’s spare ourselves that!” decried Taylor, convinced that such measures designed to insure “state neutrality” would wield a “real blow” to Quebec’s reputation around the globe.

Taylor suggested we look at Russia for an example of such systematic “exclusion":

“A similar kind of exclusion exists in Russia, although it’s a criminal offense there and thus far more serious. For example, not only is homosexuality forbidden in Russia, in itself serious, but advocating for homosexuality is also forbidden.”

“The legislation proposed here is less extreme in that it doesn’t involve the criminal code. But it does say that if you have certain beliefs, [...] you are a second class citizen, since those who have such beliefs cannot apply for jobs in public service. This is something quite serious. I don’t believe people realize to what extent.”

While it is reasonable to demand that a teacher’s face be uncovered during class, it is however very serious to forbid a woman wearing a hijab to seek work in civil service, asserts Taylor. He is convinced that if the government of the Parti québecois continues in this direction, it will isolate Quebec from the Western world.

“I challenge you to find another country in the Western Hemisphere where this kind of exclusion exists. There are countries much more diverse than ours, like Brazil, who will be appalled. They’re going to say: ‘What are those Quebecois thinking?'”

According to information obtained from “reliable sources” by the Journal of Québec, the “charter of Quebecois values” to be presented this fall by Minister Bernard Drainville, in charge of “Institutions démocratiques,” will cast a much wider net than the Bouchard-Taylor Commission's recommendations.

The hijab, the burqa, the Jewish kippa, the Sikh turban and the Christian cross – if “conspicuous,” that is, “visible” – would be forbidden in ministries, state-owned companies and tribunals, as well as in public child-care centers, schools and hospitals. In its 2008 report, the Bouchard-Taylor Commission recommended freedom of choice for government employees, teachers and health-care workers.

Opposition parties are walking on eggshells in the explosive file; they reacted across the board with uneasiness to Tuesday's report.

Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party Philippe Couillard believes that the State does not have to impose so many bans and restrictions to affirm its neutrality: “We have religious freedom here. The State is neutral when it comes to religion; such bans are unnecessary. Suppose we take it a step further and require that hospitals such as Hôtel-Dieu, Enfant-Jésus, St. Mary’s or the Hôpital général juif change their names? The government would quickly find itself in a quagmire of serious contradictions,” predicted Couillard.

A supporter of “open secularism,” the liberal leader doubts that the Parti québecois’ proposal will go over well with the Quebecois and Canadian charters of rights and freedoms. And so he is pressing Justice Minister Bertrand St-Arnaud to rapidly clarify the intentions of his colleague Drainville.

Meanwhile the leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec party (CAQ), François Legault, reproaches the government of Pauline Marois for wanting to lead the Quebecois people in “an extreme direction that should be avoided.”

“We must defend Quebecois values; we must defend equality between men and women. We won't be as radical as the Parti Québécois, but we will go much farther than the Liberal Party, who doesn’t want to do a thing to protect their Allophone and Anglophone constituents in Montreal,” said Legault during an interview with a Saguenay radio station.

Caquistes and liberals haven’t yet put their cards on the table as to the subject of secularism. Their proposals are still on the drawing board.

Françoise David, spokesperson of Québec solidaire opposes the ban on the wearing of religious symbols by state employees in public service – as long as the face is not covered. She is especially concerned with the potential exclusion of women from the job market.

“Imagine two teachers in a school. Both are Muslim. He wears a beard; she wears a veil, but one that does not cover her face. She will no longer be able to teach, yet he will. Some people have quite visible tattoos with religious connotations. What do we tell them? You can’t work anywhere in public service anymore?”

Minister Drainville refused to grant any interviews on Tuesday.

Translation of "The Cowboy Song" (Thin Lizzy), performed by Erin Jorgensen

01 The Cowboy Song.mp3

Translations of songs "Someday, Someway" by Marshall Crenshaw and "The Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits, for Seattle-based musicians The French ProjectPlease click here to watch a live recording.

Translation excerpt from Avocate irrespectueuse, by Gisèle Halimi (Plon, 2002)

    Plus d’un demi-siècle depuis que j’ai prêté serment. Plus d’un demi-siècle qu’avocate — c’est-à-dire femme et avocat – je chemine dans mes questions, me cogne à mes principes, révise mes choix.
    La justice. Ou plutôt ma justice. Comprenez, par ce possessif, la quasi-fusion avec un monde dans lequel j’avais décidé de vivre. Ma justice, donc, avait-elle été à la hauteur des grands discours pédagogiques de nos aînés, ingurgités lors des études et des stages?
    Et cette pédagogie justement...
    Les réponses, je les ai cherchées dans les espoirs et les désespoirs de mes premières plaidoiries, dans le choc des procès contre la torture. Mais aussi dans ces défenses qui entendaient mettre en question une société dans ses clivages, racisme ou sexisme.
    Pour apprendre, j’en vins à me colleter avec une réalité occultée par mes maîtres. Que m’avaient-ils enseigné ? La loi ? Egale pour tous, qu’elle réprime ou qu’elle protège. Les juges ? Impartiaux, inaccessibles, au-dessus de tout soupçon. A respecter, toute réflexion cessante. L’accusé ? A tenir à distance. La cause ? Il n’y en a pas pour l’avocat. Ou alors, s’en dissocier d’urgence et explicitement. Ainsi veut l’Ordre (des avocats).
    Au fur et à mesure que je plaidais — procès de droit commun, de société ou politiques -, je demandais des comptes à la justice. Et pour ce que je vivrais à l’avenir comme un tête-à-tête singulier, j’échafaudais un plan à double niveau : déconstruire la théorie pour mieux construire le réel.
    La justice et moi. Une intimité, en soi, étrange. J’interrogeais la justice, seule à seule. Elle me répondait. J’interrogeais de nouveau. Je m’interrogeais de nouveau. Explications d’un vieux couple, où se revit le pire comme le meilleur. Pour ce face-à-face, il me fallait être indemne de tout â priori. On le sait, la terre n’est pas bleue comme une orange mais meurtrie, sanglante, asphyxiée. Alors autant repartir à zéro. L’irrespect comme instrument, l’entêtement comme travers.
    Une exigence constante : droits de l’homme mais aussi droits des femmes. Fragilité à consolider. Des droits à peine acquis, à peine à faire peine.
    Sur cette recherche de fond s’est greffé le poids de ma vie.

    Over half a century has gone by since I took oath. That is how long I have been an attorney, an avocate. For more than half a century I have been asking myself questions, bumping heads with my principles and revising my choices.
    Justice. I should say my justice, to stress the quasi-fusion between myself and the world in which I had chosen to live. Had my justice been equal to our elders’ lofty pedagogical discourses, ingurgitated over years of study and internships?
And this pedagogy incidentally…
    I looked for answers to my questions in the hopes and despairs of my first defense cases, in the shock of trials against torture, and in defenses designed to challenge a society’s divides, its racism and its sexism.
    To learn, I had to grapple with a reality that my teachers had neglected. What had they taught me? The law? Equal for all, whether repressive or protective. The judges? Impartial, inaccessible and above suspicion. To be respected without question. The accused? To be kept at a distance. The cause? There was none for the attorney...or an immediate and unequivocal dissociation from it was required. So says the Order (of attorneys).
    Throughout my defense cases – civil, social or political – I asked justice for explanations. I devised a two-step plan for what I would live in the future as a singular tête-à-tête: deconstruct theory to better construct reality.
    Justice and I shared an intrinsically peculiar intimacy. I questioned justice person-to-person. It would respond. I would question it again. I would question myself again. The conversation of an old couple, together for better or worse. I had to be free of all a priori for this confrontation. Our world is not blue like an orange, but ravaged, cruel and stifled. So we may as well begin afresh, using disrespect as a tool and tenacity to a fault.
    With one constant demand: for human rights, for men and for women. Fragile, recently acquired rights – to think just how recently is painful – needed strengthening.
    My life’s force was rooted in this fundamental pursuit.

Translation excerpt from The Wizard, by Jack Prelutsky and Brandon Dorman (Greenwillow Books, 2007)
Le sorcier surveille, solitaire dans sa grise et froide tour de pierre,
et fomente les diableries à mettre en oeuvre aujourd'hui.
Grand, effilé, la peau frippée, il a la barbe tout emmêlée
ses yeux sont noirs, ses joues creusées, il mange à peine, ne dort jamais.  [...]

Translation excerpt from Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner (Dutton Books, 2003)
Le pauvre Skippito n'eut même pas deux secondes pour réfléchir, car en un éclair une ombre énorme noircit le paysage. Les Chimichangos se dispersèrent dans toutes les directions.
" Vamos, Skippito, ou ce sera toi que le Bandito mangera ! "
Skippito tint bon. POURTANT ses jambes tremblotaient comme de la gelée, et il claquait des dents comme si c'étaient des castagnettes.
Puis, d'une muy, muy petite voix il dit : " Je m'appelle Skippito Friskito. crains...aucun...bandito. "
Mais Alfredo Bzzito fonça droit sur Skippito, jusqu'à ce que le Bandito mangeur de haricots vombrisse à quelques centimètre seulement du visage de la Fine Lame.
" OLE FRIJOLES ! " cria Skippito, brandissant son épée en l'air. [...]

Skippyjon Jones translation excerpt read by Bonfils.


Translation excerpt from Vérité, vérité chérie, by Valérie Zenatti / illustrations by Audrey Poussier (Mouche de l'école des loisirs, 2009)

Camille était une petite louve parfaite. A sept mois, elle savait hurler à merveille, à un an elle courait plus vite que tous les loulous de sa classe et, à deux ans, il n’y en avait pas deux comme elle pour renifler un lapin à dix kilomètres à la ronde. Personne ne se souvenait d’un tel prodige, de mémoire de loup. Partout, on la citait en exemple, sa renommée allait bien au-delà de la forêt du Bois d’Ennui où elle habitait, et ses maîtres lui prédisaient le plus grand des avenirs.   
    Ce jour-là, ils étaient réunis pour le conseil de classe du premier trimestre :
    — Elle fera un merveilleux professeur, avait décrété le directeur d’école, un loup un peu gras et myope.
    — Pardonnez-moi de vous contredire, monsieur le directeur, elle fera une excellente chef de meute ! avait rectifié la professeure de hurlements de Camille, une jeune louve élancée aux crocs étincelants et aux grands yeux farouches.
    — Une louve chef de meute ! Mais ça ne s’est jamais vu ! avait grommelé le directeur, tout en reniflant. (Il reniflait beaucoup, depuis quelque temps, et se frottait souvent le museau, ce qui est très malpoli pour un loup adulte, surtout lorsqu’il est directeur d’école.) Atchoum ! Je ne sais pas ce que j’ai... Je crois que je suis en train de devenir allergique.
    — Allergique à quoi ? demanda la professeure de hurlements, pour faire mine de s’intéresser aux malheurs de son supérieur hiérarchique.
    — Allergique à vous peut-être ! Ah ah ah ! répondit le directeur en éclatant d’un rire tonitruant et déplacé.
    — Bon, pour revenir à notre petite Camille, reprit la professeure de hurlements, je pense qu’il faudra bientôt l’envoyer dans une autre école, peut-être celle du Bois Infernal. Ils ont mis au point un programme pour les jeunes loups surdoués. Et vous verrez qu’elle deviendra une chef de meute exemplaire.
    — Mouais... c’est c’qu’on verra... dit le directeur. 

Camille was the perfect little wolf. When she was only seven months old, she could howl like a dream. By the time she was one, she could run faster than any of the other little wolves in her class. And by the age of two, she could scent a rabbit within a five-miles radius. Not a single wolf in the wolf kingdom could remember ever having seen such a prodigy. Everyone talked about her and so her fame spread far beyond the Troubled Woods Forest, where she lived. All her teachers predicted the brightest of bright futures for little Camille.                             
    In fact, Camille’s future was precisely the topic of discussion at the fall teachers’ conference that day.
    “She will make a marvelous teacher,” declared the Principal, a somewhat fat and myopic wolf.
    “ Forgive me for contradicting you, Principal, but she will make an excellent leader of the pack!” said Camille’s howling teacher, a slender young wolf with sparkling fangs and large, glowing eyes.
    “But there’s never been a female leader of the pack!” grumbled the Principal with a sniffle. (He’d been sniffling quite a bit lately. Scratching 
his nose, too, which is very impolite for an adult wolf...and especially for a principal.) “Atchoo! I don’t know what’s wrong with me... I must be allergic to something...”
    “To what?” asked the howling teacher, feigning interest in her superior’s suffering.
    “Perhaps I’m allergic to you! Ha ha ha!” boomed the Principal in an entirely inappropriate burst of laughter.
    “Ahem. Well now...we were talking about our little Camille,” said the howling teacher. “I think it will be necessary to send her to a new school soon.
Perhaps the one in the Infernal Woods. They have a special program there. And you’ll see: she will make an exemplary pack leader.”
    “Harumph... That remains to b
e seen...” retorted the Principal. “As the saying goes: ‘everything in its own time’... Aaaa...tchoo!” 

Vérité, vérité chérie translation excerpt read by Jeff Baker.


Life in the Ocean translation excerpt. Story and illustrations by Claire E. Nivola (Frances Foster Books, 2012). Read by Bonfils.


Translation excerpt from 100 Mots pour comprendre les Chinois, by Cyrille J.-D. Javary (Albin Michel, 2008)
“China used to be on the far side of the world; today it is front and center. Despite its prominence in our daily lives, however, it remains beyond our grasp, mysterious and incomprehensible.
The reasons are many. One of the most obvious albeit least understood is that the Chinese do not write like us. They do not use words; they use ideograms, signs originating from schematic drawings. The difference is substantial since the words we use for writing are the tools we use for thinking.
A language builds its representation of the world based on the terms it uses to designate and write the objects surrounding it. Languages write these particular terms in the same way, through graphic elements in the form of alphabetical letters or syllabic signs. These elements have no inherent meaning; they merely transcribe the sounds of words.
Only the Chinese use graphic signs initiating from schematics that were full of imagery but carried no sounds. The difference is fundamental and goes well beyond questions of translation, to create a veritable intercultural barrier.” [.

Translation excerpt from Petite histoire de l’Afrique: L’Afrique au sud du Sahara de la préhistoire à nos jours, by Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch (Editions La Découverte, 2011)

From racialism to racism
    Why is the history of Africa so poorly known today, so marginalized, forgotten and even rejected? At the root of the disregard lies the slave trade: the black slave trade, intensified in the 17th century on the European side, as well as a much older slave trade by Arab-Muslims as early as the 9th century, in the Mediterranean world and the Indian Ocean. [...] The originality of the Atlantic trade was to determine once and for all the color of the slaves: beginning in the 17th century and especially during the 18th century, an Atlantic slave was necessarily a black slave, and every Black was in sum destined by nature to become a slave, to the extent that the word negro became a synonym for slave. Thus, paradoxically, the negative construction of the continent was confirmed during the period of the Enlightenment. The fundamental cause is well-known: Eurocentrism, which dominated the genesis of the sciences from the beginning of modern times, in the 18th century and more so in the 19th century. Unfortunately for Africa, history and ethnology took shape at precisely that moment, a moment where European supremacy violently asserted itself over the rest of the world. The world suffered from it, because the observer’s point of view was transformed into “universal truth” for a long period of time...too long a period of time.
    If the 18th century philosophers were hostile to slavery, their attitude was more ambiguous when it came to the mental and intellectual capacities of Blacks. Theories varied. Thus Tsar Peter the First of Russia, a great admirer of the Enlightenment, wanted to demonstrate that intelligence was an aristocratic gift, no matter the original “race.” He had a young slave, supposedly the son of a prince from Cameroon, raised in the Russian court. The young man became one of his principal generals and was Pushkin’s great-grandfather. However, this “opening” progressively disappeared in the 19th century, while principles of what we can call racialism (different from racism in that it consisted in what was considered then as scientific proof) were developing. The first to differentiate three races (white, yellow and black) was the naturalist Buffon at the end of the 18th century. That corresponded with the Europeans’ discovery of the continent’s interior. From that moment on, apprehension of African geography and societies was accompanied by the systemization of the idea of inequality between the races. The distinction between the superior race – white of course – was finally scientized by specialists, doctors, biologists and anthropologist physicians during the last third of the 19th century. The whole ensued almost directly from the shame born out of the “negro” trade over the course of the preceding centuries (the word itself insists on color). At the end of the 19th century, the Atlantic trade had nearly disappeared, but the conviction over racial inequality and the incapacity of Blacks to insure their own development was anchored in the Western mind. As for the first half of the 20th century: it was characterized by the rapid development of racism, that became pure prejudice from the moment in which genetics, in the 1920s, demonstrated that there was only one human species. Sadly, the conviction of a difference between the races remained solid beyond this period. [...]

Gun sireadh gun iarraidh...Without seeking, without asking...on ne va nulle part.

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