February 27, 1934

LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Which goes to show that it is not centralization which is needed, but specialization in a particular work, to bring about the economy to which the Secretary of State has referred.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I would suggest that proper

supervision is needed.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I did not interrupt the

Secretary of State when he was speaking, and I hope he will not do so with me.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

The hon. member asked a

question.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

The minister is not answering any questions just now, when he is interrupting. He has no right to do that. In these few rambling remarks I will not be interrupted by the Secretary of State except when I ask him a question which, if he wishes, he may answer. He may do that.

As I have said, if anything was needed to prove that specialization is required, most certainly the Secretary of State furnished an example to the house this afternoon when he said he had to go outside the departmental translators to get someone to translate a paper in connection with the St. Lawrence waterways treaty between Canada and the United States. If we had the system of specialization carried to a greater degree than it is to-day, there would have been no need for the Secretary of State to go outside for special men to do that translation. Let me point out to the Secretary of State, and I know whereof I speak because in my public career I have had considerable to do with translators, interpreters, and so forth, that it is one thing to be able to get a man to translate a speech, and it is an entirely different thing to get a man to translate technical subjects. A speech can only be well translated from English into French or from French into English by one individual. You cannot distribute the speech over a period of hours and to a number of different translators, giving one man fifteen pages of the speech to translate and another the following fifteen; the chances are that if you do it in that way the trans-

lation made by the second translator is not going to fit in with the idiom of the language used by the first. There you have the reason for specialization for efficient translation.

Take another case. Take a translator in the Department of National Health and place him in the centralized bureau which the Secretary of State wishes to establish. The Department of National Health has some medical subject to be translated and passes it over to the bureau. It is likely to be handed to the first translator who is idle, and that translator, not having any technical knowledge of medicine, cannot possibly do justice to his subject. Let me further point out, and I am sure that hon. gentlemen of the medical profession will agree with me, especially the French medical gentlemen in this house, that when you undertake to translate English medical subjects into French you very soon find that the technical expressions used in the one language do not correspond with the technical expressions used in the other. There is an entire difference between the technical expressions used in the English study of medicine and the technical expressions used in the French study of medicine. That again shows the necessity for specialization.

Or take the engineering branch of the Department of Public Works or of the Department of Railways. Take your translators out of those departments and place them in this centralized bureau, and what will you find? You will not have a man to do your technical translation of engineering subjects correctly unless you get hold of the very man who has been almost brought up in that particular department and has been accustomed to handling the translation of that technical work. There is another reason why specialization should be encouraged rather than centralization.

I also wish to refer to some of the remarks which the hon. Secretary of State made. He said that if one would read the bill, and he ratheT threw a slur at the hon. member for Hoehelaga (Mr. St-Pere) because he had not studied the bill, he would find that the translators coming into the central bureau would be protected in the matter of promotion. I would point out to the Secretary of State that the only clause of this bill which touches on the question of these translators coming under the Civil Service Act is clause 4, at the end of which I read that these men " may be transferred to the bureau as herein provided, and such officers and employees shall thereafter be subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Act." There is not a line

Translations Bureau-Mr. Veniot

in the whole bill which protects the principle of promotion, as it applies to these men who are to-day translators in various departments of the government. When they are taken out of the respective departments in which they are at present employed and are placed in the central bureau, they become subject to the jurisdiction of the minister who will be in charge of the bureau, probably the Secretary of State, and when they come into the bureau they come under the Civil Service Act. They are eligible for promotion under the Civil Service Act but only in so far as that promotion pertains to the central bureau for translation, and not otherwise. On the other hand, if these translators are left in their respective departments, the French translator, for instance, in the Post Office Department is eligible for promotion to any branch within that department; but once he is placed in the central bureau he is eligible for promotion only to such positions as fall within the jurisdiction of the bureau, and they are mighty few. So far then as promotion is concerned there is absolutely nothing in this bill that gives to the translators placed in the central bureau any chance-in fact, it takes away the great opportunity which they have to-day-for promotion in the department from which they are being transferred.

There are two other points, Mr. Speaker, which I should like to make. I am convinced from the experience I have had in the past twenty-five or thirty years with the system of translation we have in this country that the Secretary of State, no matter how sincere he may be in his advocacy of this bill, and I give him credit for being sincere, has been ill advised in placing this measure before the house in the form in which we now have it. If he would bring in a bill looking towards specialization to a greater degree than it exists to-day in the translation services I would be wholeheartedly in favour of it, but I cannot see from the experience that I myself have had that efficiency will be attained in translation by adopting the principle laid down in this bill. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I feel that I should not only oppose the bill in committee on particular sections of which I have made a study, but oppose the principle of the bill as it is now before the house.

The Secretary of State has also told us that one of the main reasons why French publications have not been issued as rapidly as they should have been was the fact that French translations could not be made in

time to allow the publications to come out any earlier. In making that statement he left the inference that the fault lay entirely with the translator. But let me point out, and this is a fact which I think cannot be gainsaid, that the delay in translation is not caused by the fact that the French translators do not do the work early enough, but in the majority of cases it is caused by the fact that the English matter is not handed over to the French translators in time. You will find, for instance, a report of perhaps four or five hundred pages being prepared as English matter, and the whole preparation of that report must be completed in English before a French translator can lay his finger upon a single page of it. As progress is made in the preparation of an English report; as a chapter or so or a certain portion of it is completed, say fifteen, twenty or thirty pages, why should not that portion be handed over immediately to the French translator? He would be able to keep up with the English preparation and when that preparation is ready for the press, the French translation would be completed within a very few days. The Secretary of State should direct his attention to this phase of the matter in order to bring about a more speedy issuing of these different reports and parliamentary papers.

As I said at the opening of my remarks, I could not allow this bill to go through without expressing my opinion. I appeal to the Secretary of State to consider carefully, before this bill gets too far, whether some amendment cannot be made along the lines of specialization instead of centralization, as is the present intention of the bill. I desire to say that I have the warmest feeling for the Secretary of State; I am not attempting to criticize him personally, but I think I have the right to criticize the method adopted to reach the object he has in view. I believe he is sincere in trying to effect an amelioration of existing conditions in his department in the system of translation as carried on to-day. So far as I am concerned, I do not think any question of race or nationality should be raised in this matter. I need no guarantee that this thought is not entertained in the mind of the hon. gentleman who introduced this bill, as I know what stand the Secretary of State has taken in the past in matters religious and national. I have every confidence in his feeling of fair play along these lines, but I do criticize the method he has adopted to bring about the changes which he thinks are necessary in the operation of his department.

Translations Bureau-Mr. Howard

Mr. CHARLES B. HOWARD (Sherbrooke) : Mr. Speaker, I think it is only right that I should express my opinion on this bill and tell the house why I oppose it and intend to vote for the amendment moved this afternoon by the hon. member for Ottawa (Mr. Chevrier). In the first place I consider the translators as being a highly specialized department of government, and there should be no centralization. I think the Secretary of State (Mr. Cahan) will agree with me when I say that centralization is against the trend of the times.

For instance, take our banking situation. One of the greatest troubles the banks have is caused by complaints they receive from certain sections of Canada that the people of those districts cannot obtain satisfaction from the head offices. These head offices are not closely in touch with local conditions in the outlying districts. Take our railway situation. One of the main reasons advanced by many for the non-success of our railways is centralization; they are not receiving the support they should from people in the outlying districts. The centralized management is not alive to the situation which exists in the different parts of the country. Take the Gibb report, for instance: The government brought a gentleman from another country to investigate our harbours. A committee was formed which visited the harbours of this country. Its report has been brought in, but so far no legislation has been submitted to this house to bring about the centralization of control mentioned in that report. Why? It is because public opinion in Canada is against centralization. I state publicly that no control from Ottawa could know the wants of Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec, Chicoutimi, St. John and Halifax.

If this department were an ordinary department of government, the same argument would hold, but it is something different. It is a specialized department and those in it require training of an entirely different kind. Canada is not the only country having translators; they are found to be necessary by all the bilingual countries of the world and even by the unilingual countries. Translators are found to be necessary in unilingual countries not only to translate from other languages into their own, but because they are depended upon to know the mentality of the country from which a document is received. They are able to translate not only the words of a document but the attitude, the feelings and the sentiments of the nation from which the document comes. These translators keep in touch with the translations made fMr. Veniot.]

of the literature of the different countries in order that they may know the sentiments of those countries. The translators in our service translate foreign languages into English and French but their most important work is the translating of French into English or English into French. In order to translate from English into French or from French into English the translator must know the mentality of the two peoples. He must have studied the histories of the different nationalities and must be able not only to translate a document word for word but to translate the sentiment behind those words. Hon. members should realize how difficult it is to translate from English, a severe, concise and businesslike language, into French, a beautiful, sentimental, poetical and flowery language; and vice versa. As I have said, it is not only a matter of translating words into words; it is a matter of translating the sentiment behind those words.

Something has been said as to the correctness of the translations, and in this connection I should like to quote from an authority on the subject and then refer to two other items of translation. Pierre Daviault says: (Translation)

To translate is not to substitute words for other words. To the translator the text is merely the author's thought in its raw state, that he must fashion into words. It in incumbent upon him to shape it into a form which will make it convey its full meaning. The translator's task is nothing short of a literary essay, and to translate, presents all the difficulties inherent to the essay, but is even more difficult. Translation is not the expression of one's thought, which is familiar and always present to one's mind. The translator must assimilate a thought that is not his own, a frame of mind and the shades of thought of another. Besides, he has to be imbued with the author's style, because the translation must preserve the original tone.

That is written by an authority on the subject. Now let me show how easy it is to transform certain expressions. By way of illustration I will give three quotations, indicating that an entirely wrong sense may be conveyed by the translation. For example, this phrase was given in English-and it is a common one: "The general realized the

enemy's intentions." This was translated into French: "Le general a realise les intentions de l'ennemi." I know that those who are acquainted with both languages will realize how wrong that translation is; yet in many ways it is a fair rendering. Let me cite another one that nearly got certain people into trouble at one time: "Le gouvernement francais demande." This was translated:

Translations Bureau-Mr. Howard

"The French government demands", which entirely changes the sense of the expression.

In several remarks this afternoon I think the Secretary of State and the hon. member for Labelle intimated that it was difficult to get certain translations made which they wanted to have. That seems to me most extraordinary. I hold in my hand a book written by J. Lucien Hudon, of the Departe-ment des brevets, entitled L'Automobilisme et Radio. He is evidently an authority on the subject. I want also to quote another authority in the employ of the department.

I have, too, a book by M. Daviault, from whom I have already quoted, and at page 21 of this work, entitled Questions de Langage,

I find the following:

(Translation)

No one can appreciate Francis I, unless he transports himself in thought to his period.

This shows how specialized these translators must be in the particular work they perform.

I have also a book by S. Mari oil, who as everyone knows has written several works on this subject and who is also a docteur de la Sorbonne. He is, I think, a fair authority on this subject and is also employed by the department. Now, there is no dictionary intended especially for translations; for as I have already said the translator must know the mentality of the peoples from whom he is translating. Let me give another example that possibly will come even closer home to us. Many hon. members have no doubt read a book written by the hon. member for Ivamouraska (Mr. Bouchard), Vieilles Choses et Vieilles Gens. The title of that book, in English, is Other Days, Other Ways. I give these two to show how very different they are, and yet the mental idiom expresses the same pensee. I have read this book both in English and in French, and I can tell you that if you want to appreciate its sentiments you must read it in French, the language in which it was written.

Nobody wants a mechanical translation. Moreover, there is this fact that impresses me very much: I cannot see how any member of the government could support this bill. The ministers are responsible not only to their constituencies but to Canada for the translations that come from their departments. Every cabinet minister has his own personal peculiarities, and if he wants a translation made properly in his department he must call upon a man who knows the minister, who knows the department, and who is familiar with the subjects he has to deal with. Suppose this department is organized and a head is appointed to supervise all translations coming therefrom. The Secretary of State has a

document to be translated and he calls up the Bureau for Translations and asks for a man. Possibly the subject relates to agriculture, and of course the bureau, following railroad rules, first in first out, in order to divide up the work, so that no one will be overloaded and everyone will have the same proportion, sends out a man who probably has taken two years at university in the study of medicine. This man knows all the medical terms, and he is called upon to translate something relating entirely to agriculture. There will certainly be a good many technical terms quite unknown to him, and he accordingly produces an erroneous translation. What will be the state of affairs if the minister happens to be a gentleman who is acquainted with one language only? Vice versa, suppose the Minister of Health calls for a translator to give him a translation of something dealing with medical questions. He calls up the bureau and as translators 5, 6 and 7 are out, No. 8 is assigned to this work. He is quite familiar with agricultural terms but he knows nothing whatever about the terms used in medicine. Could anything be more ridiculous?

I will go a step further. Let us take mining, for instance. We are talking a good deal about mining development in this country, and if there is one subject more than another in which a thorough knowledge of technical terms is called for on the part of the translator, if an accurate translation is to be produced, that subject is mining. But if you happen to get a translator who is expert in rendering medical terms and put him to work on the translation of a document in which there are all sorts of mining technicalities, I do not know what sort of translation you can expect. Or take the House of Commons. Just imagine the difference between the work of a man translating a speech made by the Prime Minister of Canada and the work of a translator giving us in French a quiet speech made by the Minister of Pensions and National Health. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that in order to produce an accurate translation a man must know the speaker whom he is translating; he must know the type of speech that man is going to deliver. Then he can give a fairly accurate translation and one which will, while not changing the sense, convey to our French Canadian citizens an exact replica of the speech made in English, or, on the other hand, an exact reproduction of a speech delivered in French.

I submit therefore that this subject is most serious-I think-more serious than was contemplated when the bill was drafted. In reply to the hon. member for Hochelaga a few minutes ago, I believe the Secretary of State said that

Translations Bureau-Mr. Howard

the hon. gentleman had not read the bill. Well, I have read it several times. I have a marked copy of it with certain words underlined, and there are in the bill many points which I am sure have not had due consideration by the cabinet. I will not take them up in detail, because the subject will be studied in committee unless, as I hope, the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Ottawa carries. For instance, in section 3 there appears these words: "for all departments of the public

service." This means, just as I have said, that a minister of the crown, in his own specialized department, with his own particular method of doing things and in regard to a subject of which he has most intimate knowledge, will have to call in a man by number- 7, 8 or 9-who knows nothing about the minister's idiosyncrasies or the subject concerning which he must do translation.

May I direct the attention of the house to a few more words in this bill. In clause 4 it does not say that all these men " shall " be transferred to this bureau; it says that they "may" be transferred. In this I think the bill is wrong. If the house passes this legislation, what right have we to say that employees may be appointed or may be left out according to who they are?

Clause 5 says nothing about " may," but it states:

An officer to be called the Superintendent of the Bureau for Translations shall be appointed.

It does not say that he may be appointed; it says that he shall be appointed. In this way in certain parts of the bill it says " may " and in other parts "shall," I-f we are going to have a bill to centralize, to which principle I am entirely opposed, we should have uniformity.

I am one of those who believe in two official languages, English and French, and I am pleased that most of the French Canadians in Quebec can speak the English language. I should like to suggest that every hon. member take the trouble to do what was done by the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) and the hon. member for Richelieu (Mr. Cardin) who, when they first came into the house, could not speak a single word of English, and who to-day can make speeches in English to which not only this bouse but the people generally throughout the country are pleased to listen. Not from a political standpoint or from any other consideration in connection with this bill, but from an educational point of view, I hope every person in Canada will try to learn as much as he can of the two official languages. I am also one of those who

believe in treating in exactly the same way the people who use these two languages. This bill cuts off from ultimate promotion, or, to put it miore mildly, restricts the promotion of, our French Canadian fellow citizens. I am entirely opposed to that, just as I would be against restriction in regard to any promotion our English speaking fellow citizens might merit.

Having regard to the present situation in the country, to the demands that the Canadian people make of 'this parliament to-day, and to the expectancy with which our distressed citizens are looking for legislation, after going over the bills that have so far been introduced I feel there are other types of legislation much more important than a bill to put expert translators into a specialized, centralized bureau.

To go a step further, I would say that if this bill is to be put through I should like to have this added to it: When I was sitting on the flther side of the house behind a government, I suggested that if any change were to be made I would favour giving a preference to French or English speaking citizens who had a knowledge of both languages. The Civil Service Act should be amended so as to carry at least a five per cent preference for bilingualism.

I hope the Secretary of State will either give some genuine reasons for introducing this bill or withdraw it. Before the bill passes, he should at least consult with the three authorities whom I have already quoted, who have written 'books and who are men of standing in literary matters, and get their candid opinion as to the translators.

If I may be pardoned a personal reference,

I put in twenty-two years of my life among French Canadians in order to learn their language and their mentality, and I would not attempt to translate any document from English into French. While the Secretary of State is a citizen of the largest French Canadian city, with all his sympathies, which 1 admit, towards the French people, he cannot speak their language. I do not consider he is sufficient authority on the floor of the house to introduce such a bill as this, which is calculated to deprive our French Canadian fellow citizens of a right which belongs to them. This right to promotion is not a favour; it is their right. Therefore I trust the Secretary of State will reconsider his decision and withdraw the bill.

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LIB
CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

From what is the hon. gentleman reading?

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LIB

Joseph Georges Bouchard

Liberal

Mr. BOUCHARD:

I am reading from a copy of the Sellar report; if it does not suit the minister perhaps he will tell me. The committee reported as follows:

No complaints as to the quality of the translated texts were made to the committee. It waa found that throughout the departments a general policy of decentralization is in effect. The adoption of such policy was the result of the question, being explored in 1910 after a report was made by Mr. Aehille Frechette, who, under instructions of the Board of Internal

Translations Bureau-Mr. Bouchard

Economy of the House of Commons, visited Belgium -and Switzerland to observe the practice in effect in those countries. From the information before the committee the general consensus of opinion in the departments is in favour of the status quo.

I ask the minister, is that a reliable report? Anyhow the committee did not approve of centralization. I fail to see much in favour of amalgamation in any of these reports. I fail to see on what ground the minister bases his policy. Is it the result of deep thinking or of intense dreaming? Perhaps some have been moved by the complaints made by the minister in his own case. Let us read what he said in introducing his 'bill into this house on January 29 last at page 8 of Hansard:

The situation is such that the department of the Secretary of State either must have a number of translators attached to it or must be able to avail itself of the services of some one or more of -these ninety-one translators. For instance, the Department of the Secretary of State has to procure a translation of the address of Hi-s Excellency the Governor General at the opening of parliament, but there is n-o translator to whom I can apply to have that work done, so I have been dependent upon the gratuitous service of personal friends, or to pay others to make that translation from time to time. In addition we have a very considerable number of important state documents of which the Secretary of State, as Registrar General, is the conservator or keeper or guardian. Yet some time ago, when a treaty dealing with the waterways was signed between the government of Canada and the government of the United States, there was not a single translator to whom I could apply or to whom I had the right to apply to make a translation of that document from English into French for circulation as required.

I take strong exception to that statement, Mr. Speaker. If as a result of the dismissal by the government of over a dozen translators the minister is unable to get proper service, then, if it is not his own fault, it is the fault of the government. Secondly, I have only to submit that had the minister entrusted the work to a translator in the Archives 'branch, such as the hon. member for Sherbrooke (Mr. Howard) mentioned, for instance, to Dr. Marion, a distinguished author, we would not have witnessed the spectacle of His Excellency being obliged to read a document with threescore or more inaccuracies, false sense, grammatical errors, and so on.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Would the hon. gentleman

suggest to me what right I have as Secretary of State to take a gentleman in the Archives and appropriate his services for general business? He is appointed to the Archives for certain special work which requires his attention from time to time. Why should I trans-74726-85

fer him to another department? What authority have I to do so?

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LIB

Joseph Georges Bouchard

Liberal

Mr. BOUCHARD:

Unless I am mistaken

the Archives comes under the jurisdiction of the minister.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

No, it is not a part of the department of the Secretary of State. It is a separate and distinct department created for a special service of its own.

Mr. 'CASGRAIN: Then would the minister state what department the Archives does belong to?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

It is the Department of

Public Archives, with its own deputy minister.

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LIB

Joseph Philippe Baby Casgrain

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

Who is the Deputy Minister of Public Archives, may I ask?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

My hon. friend can look

into the record for himself.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

I would call the attention of hon. members to the fact that the house is not in committee.

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LIB

Joseph Georges Bouchard

Liberal

Mr. BOUCHARD:

Anyhow, there are too many good translators around the house here and elsewhere in this city of Ottawa for it to have been at all difficult for the minister to have secured one.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

But there is not a translator around this -building or in Ottawa whose services I have the right to demand as a translator in the public service.

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

You could have appointed one, just as there are translators in other departments.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Why appoint them when a

score who have been appointed are away on five or six months' holidays during the summer and the public service is suffering?

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

Force them to work.

Mr. OAH-A'N: I have no authority to force them to work.

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February 27, 1934