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The three of them, that is, The Three Caballeros, the Big Wave Riders, namely Chris, John, and Sky, aliases that act not as nicknames but rather as pseudonyms, created in order to reinvent themselves as planetary surfers when really they’re high-schoolers from the estuary.

I am reading the English translation of the French novel Réparer les vivants (Mend the Living)—a good way to improve my English I guess—and I would like to understand why the translator omitted some words.

In French, it is “puisque créés pour…” which would literally be in English: “(since they had been) created in order to”.

The translator chose to omit “since” and the auxiliary for the passive voice to be more concise and elegant but how does it work?

Can the apposition (", created") replace a phrase with “since”? Why? I know we can omit BE in relatives (WHIZ-deletion) but does it work the same with an adverb phrase with “since”? With the apposition of the past participle we understand the causal meaning but how does it work? What is the grammatical logic behind it? Thank you.

Thank you for your answer. This is the full French paragraph. It is a very very long paragraph, so it may be a case of not overburdening an already very complex syntax as you suggested.

"Christophe Alba, Johan Rocher et lui, Simon Limbres. Les alarmes sonnaient quand ils ont repoussé leur drap et sont sortis du lit pour une session conclue peu avant minuit par échange de textos, une session à mi-marée comme on en compte deux ou trois dans l’année – mer formée, houle régulière, vent faible et pas un chat sur le spot. Un jean, un blouson, ils se sont glissés au-dehors sans rien avaler, pas même un verre de lait, une poignée de céréales, pas même un bout de pain, se sont postés au bas de leur immeuble (Simon), devant le portail de leur pavillon (Johan), et ont attendu le camion qui lui aussi était ponctuel (Chris), et eux qui jamais ne se lèvent avant midi le dimanche, malgré les sommations maternelles, eux dont on dit qu’ils ne savent que penduler chiques molles entre le canapé du salon et la chaise de leur chambre, ils piaffaient dans la rue à six heures du matin, lacets défaits et haleine fétide – sous le réverbère, Simon Limbres a regardé se désagréger l’air qu’il expirait par la bouche, les métamorphoses de la fumerolle blanche qui s’élevait, compacte, puis se dissolvait dans l’atmosphère, jusqu’à disparaître, s’est souvenu qu’enfant il aimait jouer au fumeur, plaçait l’index et le majeur tendus devant ses lèvres, prenait une large inspiration en creusant les joues et soufflait comme un homme –, eux, soit les Trois Caballeros, soit les Big Waves Hunters, soit Chris, John et Sky, alias jouant non comme des surnoms mais comme des pseudonymes, puisque créés pour se réinventer surfeurs planétaires quand on est lycéens d’estuaire, si bien qu’à l’inverse prononcer leur prénom les rabat illico sur une configuration hostile, la bruine glacée, le clapot maigre, les falaises comme des murs et les rues désertées à l’approche du soir, le reproche parental et la requête scolaire, la plainte de la petite amie laissée sur le carreau, celle à laquelle on aura cette fois encore préféré le van, celle qui ne pourra jamais rien contre le surf."

I guess the passive passive auxiliary in French is implied ("puisque que ces pseudonymes ont été créées pour"). French and English can both omit BE in appositive sentences but I found it strange to omit "because." Reading your answer (how it can easily be "contextually inferred"), now I wonder there is "puisque" in French in the first place because it works without it! But that's another story.

  • I don't see a passive auxiliary in the French you give; its literal translation would be because created for/to.... That's not English idiom, so the translator had to choose between omitting the puisque and intruding the subject and auxiliary; I imagine she chose to omit puisque because its sense (which I think is closer to in that than to since) can be contextually inferred and she preferred not to overburden the syntax. BUt a fuller citation of the French text might suggest other reasons. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 29 '17 at 11:44
  • Thank you for your answer. This is the full French paragraph. It is a very very long paragraph, so it may be a case of not overburdening an already very complex syntax. – J-L Aug 29 '17 at 13:23
  • Hmm ... I have only a very imperfect command of French; but it looks to me like the translator takes puisque in an emphatic rather than a causative sense and then, to maintain the flow, kinda-sorta distributes that over rather and really, neither of which appears in the French. Does that make sense? – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 29 '17 at 14:07
  • The translation is pretty poorly written. Translators omit things and add things all the time but it still has to flow nicely/ [I translate from French.] – Lambie Jan 25 at 21:51
  • If you want to learn English, read books written by native speakers. – Lambie Jan 26 at 1:53
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Note: you said "I am reading the English translation of the French novel Réparer les vivants (Mend the Living)—a good way to improve my English I guess". Well, that might not be the best way to learn English, especially if your knowledge of English is already high enough. Why? Because translations are often (definitely not always) of improper quality. Better way: read books written originally in English by English authors. There are countless such books. Many of them in the public domain already.

Back to “(since they had been) created in order to”.

First I do not know French, so I cannot tell much about the original text.

Regarding the English part, it is true, appositions can replace words. I think it works similarly in other languages too.

However, I think the "missing" word is not "since" in this context. I feel it should be "which were" (or similar):

aliases ... which were created in order to reinvent themselves

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I translate from French to English and would take this:

The three of them - The Three Caballeros, the Big Wave Riders, namely Chris, John, and Sky, aliases that act not as nicknames but rather as pseudonyms, created in order to reinvent themselves as planetary surfers when really they’re high-schoolers from the estuary.

And do this:

They were The Three Caballeros AKA The Big Wave Hunters AKA Chris, John and Sky with these nicknames that really came off as pseudonyms since they created them so they could reinvent themselves as globetrotting surfers when they really were just high schoolers [[from the estuary]].

The word since is crucial to the meaning there, it explains why they used these names.

Furthermore, I would not use the present tense in French which is the historical present in English. It does not work in English here.

  • aliases that act not as nicknames but as pseudonyms= is typical French structure and is very awkward in English here. act is wrong here in English. come off is better. names cannot act as something in English, only people can act as something.

  • It's less heavy if "in order to" is not used.

  • that estuary business might refer to a lycée professionnel called by that name.

  • or something else. I would have to read the book, but it is very unlikely that it is high-schoolers from "the estuary".

So, to answer the original question: No, created does not "replace" since. The translator just made an editorial decision to leave it out. Whereas I put it back in as it shows the logic more clearly.

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