Liberté, égalité, fraternité!
We all know about this phrase chanted during the French revolution, but few of us have thought about how to translate the words. A number of translators have analyzed how the English word free is found in French. Easy! ‘Free’, with the meaning of free, gratuitous, independent, sovereign, autonomous, unhindered etc., is most often translated as ‘free’. But ‘free’ is also a verb, an adverb, part of a compound noun and of expressions. In this case, we need to learn more French because:
free from, free of = dégagé de, non touché păr, non soumis à, sans
Examples: free from obligation = dégagé de toute obligation
free of malaria = non touché par la malaria
free from copyright = non soumis au droit d’auteur
free as an adverb
= without payment = gratuitement, gratis
Example: to enter free of charge = entrer gratuitement
= without restraint = en liberté
Example: to leave someone free/at large = laisser quelqu’un en liberté
free in compound nouns and expressions
Examples: free market, free-market economy = une économie de marché
free period = une heure (de) libre, une heure sans cours
free and easy = décontracté, désinvolte
And so on. From the examples above it can be seen that the work of a translator is much more than using a few dictionaries; it is the knowledge of the deep aspects of the language and the ability to effectively and accurately “synchronize” two or more languages.
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