Le mot du travail : « œuvrer »

2 Juil

After 5 weeks in Europe, I am finally back in my home office and slowly settling back into a “routine” (in quotation marks because there is honestly nothing repetitive or regular about interpreting and translating… that’s what keeps things interesting!). I cannot believe I did not get a chance to create a single post while in France! I must say that if I ever was at the computer, it was to work on a translation project with a deadline or quickly manage e-mails and prevent an overflow of messages.


My office in Mittelwihr, France, kindly set-up by my awesome brother-in-law!

Outside of translation work, my time was spent with family, friends and my husband… and it was wonderful! I will make sure to journal some of our visits on the blog, because we also had fun playing tourists!


One view from my office, towards my father’s car shop and the neighboring village, Bennwihr

For today’s work-related word, I thought of the verb “œuvrer”, a translation of “to work” when used figuratively (rather than “travailler” in the physical sense).

// œuvrer dans le bon sens // expression: to strive in the right direction

It is also used to signify working towards a higher calling, working for the good of humanity:

// œuvrer dans le domaine social // to work in social affairs

// œuvrer pour l’égalité des sexes // to work towards gender equality

Définition (Antidote) : Agir, diriger ses efforts dans le but d’obtenir ou d’accomplir quelque chose de noble ou d’important. Œuvrer auprès des démunis. Œuvrer pour le bien de la nation.

My current charity work (« œuvres de charité ») involves a few translation projects for Translators Without Borders and Gospel Translations. It is not as gratifying as being involved in a local organization and directly helping people in need, but that type of work is the most appropriate for my current situation. I might not see the impact of my small role in a big organization, but I know these are seeds sown in people’s lives, at some point in time, somewhere.

When I think of this type of charity work, I feel that the difference between translation and interpreting can be compared to acting:

Translating is like acting for a movie or a recorded documentary. It has an impact on a wide geographical scale, on the largest audience and over an infinite timeline (as long as the film can be played and broadcast through all media available). It can be replayed and inspire the reader/ audience to take action. It can easily be shared with others.

Interpreting is like stage acting or improvisation. The feedback from the audience is instant, it is a two- (or three-)way communication, words as well as emotions are channeled through the actor directly to the audience. The impact can be greater with an immediate intense response, but it is ephemeral and cannot be reproduced or replayed. The experience can only be shared with others through the audience’s own words and its interpretation of the play.

Both are rewarding and I am enjoying developing my skills in both disciplines. As an interpreter and translator, I strive towards breaking down language and cultural barriers on a daily basis.

This reminds me that I have not written down a professional mission statement yet for my career; do you recommend writing one up? If you have one, how do you think it has impacted your clients’ perception of your work and role as interpreter or translator?

4 Réponses to “Le mot du travail : « œuvrer »”

  1. Jonathan juillet 2, 2012 à 19:02 #

    Welcome back. I look forward to reading your articles once again.


    • FrenchNad juillet 2, 2012 à 19:13 #

      Thanks Jonathan for following as always! Caught up on recent articles on your blogs as well… Cheers!

      • guyilannoa juillet 2, 2012 à 23:35 #

        My blog has been missing you since you wrote a great article some months back. Will you write an article about your languages studies?

      • FrenchNad juillet 3, 2012 à 10:04 #

        Let’s discuss via private email, thanks for your interest and happy Tuesday!


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