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Translating fairy stories and lifelong learning


I'm translating my own yoga adventure story book into French. I'm not completely out of my depth here, as I have a degree in English and French Studies. It's the first time since graduating last century that I have used French in any professional capacity. Which got me thinking about studying and qualifications and where they lead.

Not only do I have a degree in English and French, I also have an MA in Arts Policy and Management. I've used my English in my previous jobs, in marketing my yoga teaching business, and my love of literature helped me when studying texts for my yoga teaching diploma. My MA included modules on education and marketing and I still dip into this knowledge. Even my A Level in Biology has helped me when studying for yoga. But French - never. Not until two days ago.

A yoga teacher based in France has bought my book and seems enthusiastic, and that's enough to spur me on. I have help from native French speaking friends and I can make a start using my own knowledge. And what fun I'm having.

From now on I'm going to sound like a language nerd. Because there's a tense in French called the 'passé simple', which is only used in formal, literary writing. This includes children's books; my copies of French Mr Men translations are written in this formal language. And... oh my goodness... it's also known as the 'Once Upon a Time' tense. It's perfect for the fairy tale adventure feel of my story.

It's also fun finding out what my characters are called in French and seeing this written down, and hearing my words in another beautiful language. The Dragon is simply 'Le Dragon', but the Flying Horse is 'Le Cheval Ailé' and the Golden Eagle is 'L'Aigle Royal'.

It's also been fun finding out the names of yoga poses in French. Warrior One is 'La Posture du Guerrier Un' and Downward Facing Dog is 'La Posture du chien tête en bas'.

I think the title is going to be Il Fut Un Temps Où Tu… but I'm prepared to be told that this is wrong and makes no sense. Languages have their own structure so you can't just translate one word after the other and hope that they mean the same thing.

It looks like more wonderful friends are going to come up with a Spanish translation too, but this is totally out of my depth and I won't be able to have the same level of involvement. For now, I'm just enjoying dusting off a rusty skill and refreshing and adding to my knowledge. We never stop learning and you never know when an old skill might come in handy!

And while we're on the subject, I used my grade 8 piano and GCSE music to compose and record piano music for my audiobook Red Kites, Apples and Blood Cells, GCSE Drama to narrate it, and a long buried love of drawing to come up with the illustrations in my book. I never thought that teaching yoga would be the thing to bring all of these skills and interests together!

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