Not science, but not claiming to be: My first reviews in French

I just got the reviews of my first conference paper submission in French.  (I wish I could say that I dared to write it in French, but no: one of my co-authors, a native speaker, translated it from English, with, of course, many additional contributions.)  The reviews illustrate a couple of interesting grammatical points, and of course, thanks to Zipf’s Law, they bring up some new vocabulary items.

  • prétendre: to claim.  L’article, qui n’est pas en soi une contribution scientifique (mais ne prétend pas l’être)… “The article, which is not itself a scientific contribution (but does not claim to be)…”
  • aborder: to tackle, as in a question or problem.  Cet article aborde la question de l’annotation… “This article tackles the question of annotation…”  Cette perspective pose des questions en adoptant la perspective—très rarement abordée–du type de corpus.  “This perspective asks questions by adopting the perspective–very rarely tackled–of the type of corpus.”
  • éprouvant(e): trying, as in having a trying day.  …les difficultés qu’ils peuvent rencontrer à annoter des données sensibles, éprouvants.   “…the difficulties that they can encounter when annotating sensitive, trying data.”  (The paper is about annotating suicide notes.)

The interesting grammatical item: the definite article in L’article, qui n’est pas en soi une contribution scientifique (mais ne prétend pas l‘être)… “The article, which is not itself a scientific contribution (but does not claim to be)…” I’m not sure what that epenthetic article is called, but I’ve heard this type of construction before, most notably in an episode of Coffee Break French, Season 4, where it was talked about at some length.  There’s clearly no English equivalent, but it is required in French, as far as I know.

PS: Yes, the paper was accepted!

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