We can all communicate with ease in a second language.
Our way: Precise translations. Topical subjects. Motivating presentation.
Do you have a basic knowledge of French or English as a second language?
Do you wish you could speak and write fluently in that language? Would you like to be able to say what you want to say about subjects that interest you?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, you’ve come to the right place.
Le must bilingue™ strives to bridge the gap between French and American English so that you can make fast progress and express yourself spontaneously.
The collection aims to help French speakers improve their English and English speakers improve their French with subjects that are relevant in today’s world. The format of the books lends itself to this twofold commitment.
Since the topics covered matter to you, you will enjoy perusing the collection and you will learn without even realizing it.
TO TRANSLATE IS TO BETRAY
The Italian expression “Traduttore, traditore” – literally, “translator, traitor” – was born out of the old cultural rivalry between France and Italy when the two countries competed for attention even before the Renaissance. Dissatisfied with the early French translations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Italians felt that the translators had betrayed the original and thus coined this paronomasia (play on words that are similar in sound but have different meanings.)
This short and punchy aphorism may sound beautiful in Italian, does it however express a fundamental truth?
A literal translation is rarely possible because it will either produce a stilted result or fail to accurately communicate the true meaning of the original text. It could even lead to misinterpretation. Indeed, each language has its own particularities and has words and concepts with no single equivalent in another language. English has many more words than French and is a more flexible language whereas French is more rigorous and its grammar is more complex. Translating a literary text is even more challenging as one must take into account the cultural and historical context. New elements may be necessary to provide clarity, hence the Italians’ understandable dissatisfaction with some translations of La Commedia.
A translation has to strike a balance between remaining faithful to the original material and creating a fluid text that sounds natural and is enjoyable to read.
Translators do not translate words but interpret the meaning conveyed by groups of words that are governed by syntactic rules and understood in a particular context. A good knowledge of both the source language and target language allows a translator to reach a satisfactory compromise in order to produce a precise translation.
Maud Bourgé, the author of Le must bilingue™ collection, was born and educated in France. She has spent most of her working life in England and the United States and has thus been immersed in various cultural and office settings. Her bilingual collection is the result of her experiences including many years as a translator and editor. Never daunted by difficulty, she takes pride in her work. In her bilingual collection, she strives for quality and provides idiomatic expressions in both languages so that you cannot tell which of the French text or the English text came first. You will thus be equipped with the knowledge you need in your second language to say what you want on a subject that matters to you.
Every language is a world. Without translation, we would inhabit parishes bordering on silence.
– George Steiner
AN EFFECTIVE APPROACH
Le must bilingue™ was designed to give you the answers and information you need in a clear and easy-to-navigate format.
You don’t know where to start? Pick a book you are interested in, read a section that draws your attention or open a random page, and hide one column to guess what the equivalent could be and compare. There are of course different ways to express an idea and the book will hence give you the most commonly used phrases and sentences among native speakers. After a few tries, you will see patterns emerge and be able to articulate your thoughts with ease.
Your e-reader allows you to jump to a section by clicking on a title in the table of contents. The search function for words is also very useful as it works for both languages and allows you to add your own notes.
Use the highlight function on your e-reader when something catches your eye. From Le must bilingue de l’analyse littéraire, it could be the whole section on drama, an ideal reference to talk at length about a play, or the introduction to poetry about the differences between the two languages. For more prosaic albeit useful information in your professional life, from Le must bilingue des courriels professionnels, it could be an email sample, or from Le must bilingue du droit des affaires et de la finance, all the terminology you need to remember when drafting contracts. You can then revisit the passages several times until they become familiar.
Treat Le must bilingue™ like a game and reward yourself for “playing” X minutes a day for Y days in a row. Just 15 minutes a day, on your commute to work for example, will take your mind off things while you expand your vocabulary and learn the most useful expressions to express yourself. Focus on a small part, revisit it later, repeat, memorize a few structures, jot down some notes, and you will soon be fluent and feel confident to say what you want.
Do not be too hard on yourself, take your time, consistency is the key to making progress. Pat yourself on the back for each of the small achievements that you collect. Before long, you will be proud of your command of the language and feel a great sense of accomplishment. Also, remember that delving deeper into a foreign language is one of the most effective ways to keep your mind sharp!
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
– Nelson Mandela
Le must bilingue™ caters to the demands of today’s society and helps you express yourself with confidence about subjects that are immediately applicable to the real world.
The topics relevant to your career and personal life were chosen to spark a desire to expand your knowledge. Your interest in the subject matter will make you forget that you are learning a foreign language and you will thus be in an ideal situation to improve your fluency. You will easily, and almost unwittingly, pick up new expressions, master new sentence constructions, and adopt new automatisms – and one morning, you’ll wake up from a dream and be surprised that it was not in your native language.
Le must bilingue de l’actualité (News), for instance, gives you all the typical turns of phrase that you find in newspaper articles. They rarely translate literally and you will have fun recognizing the familiar structures in both French and American newspapers. After a close reading of the book, you will realize that you understand a lot more than you expected.
Le must bilingue™ is in fact an invitation to explore the new worlds that unfold in front of us when we go deeper into a second language.
With a penchant for the unexpected, I loved those scavenger hunts of my childhood in the French countryside. And they always delivered. In the middle of a small wood, a quaint chapel defying the rules of geometry. On the other side of a barren hill, a meadow full of daffodils waiting to be picked. At the end of a long dirt road, a colorful garage where a poet transformed scrap metal into works of art. Discoveries await us in many places in the world.
I enjoy exploring new cities, wandering, taking in the surroundings, and getting lost; to me, it is the best way to experience a city. I invite you to do likewise with my bilingual collection. Open a book anywhere and begin. You may be surprised and find answers to questions you had asked yourself as well as answers to questions you had not yet pondered. I promise that you will learn many things a textbook could never teach.
Throughout my life, I have enjoyed exposure to various cultures through international travel and while working in England, North Africa, and eventually the United States. In my studies from early on, I have focused on English and dabbled in other European languages.
The diverse subjects in Le must bilingue™ collection are a function of my varied experience in vastly different cultures.
In my first job, in the French Language Section of the BBC World Service, at Bush House where General de Gaulle made his famous call for resistance to the Nazi occupation and where I was lured into the basement canteen not so much by the promise of good food but that of good conversation with people from all over the world, I quickly learned to decipher the journalistic jargon in both French and English. My interest in current affairs expanded, and I have been following international news ever since.
My international education continued in London while working for several years as an editor and translator for an international consultancy preparing proposals and reports aimed at governments in Africa and the Middle East and international agencies such as the World Bank and the United Nations. My translation experience also includes a stint as a bilingual lexicographer for Oxford University Press where the most enjoyable part was participating in meetings in Oxford which gathered kindred spirits interested in words and their various meanings. Finally, my experience in big law firms both in Paris and in San Francisco led me to write the first book of the collection on business law and finance before knowing it was the beginning of a collection.
I currently live in San Francisco where the energy seems to vibrate faster than elsewhere and where I found the inspiration for the bilingual books.
Working with people from the world over throughout my professional life has sharpened my curiosity in general and has made me more observant. I enjoy finding connections among seemingly disparate elements, whether at work or outside of work. In my bilingual collection, I share the fruits of my experience aspiring to become a valuable ally you can count on to delve deeper into your second language.
Matthieu is trilingual French-English-Spanish and has a basic knowledge of Italian and Russian, which he intends to improve. He was the catalyst behind the books on teenage talk and math while attending a bilingual school. He first learned math in French before continuing with the American system. Curious about many things, he wanted to understand better how the world works, and to that end, he studied political economy at UC Berkeley. Just after graduating, he joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in Costa Rica where he taught English and French. And quickly adapted to the “pura vida” which is not only a greeting but also a way of life observing the precept: “don’t worry, be happy, somehow things always work out in the end.” Together with some 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers who were abruptly evacuated from their host countries because of the coronavirus, he was repatriated to the United States and is trying to live by these principles which are being sorely tested in a surreal locked-down world. He wants to devote his life to public service.
Thanks to the Internet, one can sometimes find gems as was the case here. It was a meeting of creative minds.
Most of the covers were designed by Tatiana Vila who is able to translate ideas into striking images in no time. Tatiana speaks English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. She learned French as a once-aspiring chef while studying haute cuisine in a famous hotel management school in Paris. She is also an eco-friendly jewelry maker and the author of The Ylem and Breakaway.
More info can be found at
The cartoon for the book on elections was drawn by Michael Luckovich who graciously agreed to share his art. Mike is an editorial cartoonist who is the recipient of several prestigious awards including two Pulitzer prizes, and, on three occasions, the Reuben award, the National Cartoonist Society’s top award. He was also one of three cartoonists to receive the 2018 Advancing American Democracy Award. Have fun taking a look at his political cartoons https://www.ajc.com/news/luckovich-blog. For more laughs, check his books: “Lotsa Luckovich,” “Four More Wars!” and “A Very Stable Genius.”
The website was designed by Nessy Barzilay, a software engineer turned ceramic artist who made judicious suggestions for this website. Some of her garden totems would fit right into the lush vegetation of a rainforest.