[latexrefman-discuss] Translation to French of "moving argument"

Vincent Belaïche vincent.belaiche at domain.hid
Fri Nov 18 10:58:40 CET 2016

Dear Johannes,

Then it would be in French `un argument qui se déplace', or `un argument
se déplaçant'.

Well, to be frank I had already raised the question on the
fr.comp.text.tex forum (see

When I raised this discussion, my original question was « what would be
the best translation for « moving argument » ? », but at once the
discussion turned into answering another question: « what would be the
best naming for « moving argument » ? », and I must admit that at that
time I did not notice that.

It occurred in the discussion that people do not really agree that
« argument mouvant » (litterally equal to « moving argument ») is a good
name from the explanatory point of view --- meaning that if those French
TeXies had been English-speaker, they would not have agreed either with
the orinal « moving argument » term. That is the first thing that was
pointed out to me : this argument does not really move, it is not like a
float or suchlike that will go here and there every time you modify the
text around, it is defined in some fixed position and usually it is
executed some one or several other fixed position(s). Hence the term
« argument mobile » (litterally « mobile argument » is the one proposed
in http://cahiers.gutenberg.eu.org/cg-bin/article/CG_2007___49_19_0.pdf
which is an article about translating LaTeX terminology from English to

It was however acknowledged that « argument mouvant » is sometimes used
in French, but with some guilty feeling of making a lazy translation.

Somebody-else proposed that better terms would be « copied / cloned /
duplicated / replicated / ubiquited argument », another proposal was
« multiple-use / delayed-use argument » (where « use » is preferred to
« expansion » as some partial expansion happens when the argument is
written to the aux file).  I also put into the bucket « relooped
argument » and « reentering argument » (I translated all these proposals
to English for you, but they were made in French or French+English in
the original discussion).

Somebody raised that Leslie Lamport gives only a fuzzy explanation of
what a moving argument really is, some part of the introductory text of
the problem of fragile/robust commands sounds even like an explanation
for kids :

   When carried from where it appears in the input file to the other
   places it is used, the argument of a sectioning command is shaken up
   quite a bit. Some LaTeX commands are fragile and can break when they
   appear in an argument that is shaken in this way.

So if we translate in French by `un argument qui se déplace', or by `un
argument se déplaçant', we use some stylistically flat language to stick
to the original term « moving argument », and that probably will make it
even more unpleasant to French-speaking TeXies. Said otherwise, we loose
the poetical strength of the original term, while not gaining any

In the end of the discussion I concluded that anyway « argument mobile »
is not so good either because, while keeping the idea of mobility found
in « moving argument » it tries to give a better explanation of what it
is, which anyway does not seems to have been Leslie Lamport's intention
when choosing this « moving argument » term. It is like stopping in the
middle of a ford : either you keep the more poetical original idea, or
you try to be technically exact, but « argument mobile » does not
succeed in either targets.

That is why all this discussion made me even more strongly opinionated
that « argument mouvant » is a better translation. It has two advantages
in my view :

- respect to the original English term by Leslie Lamport,

- anyway what matters is the explanation behind it, which cannot fit
  into a two words phrase, so coining such a strange term as « moving
  argument » may be the best possible incentive to read further


Le 15/11/2016 à 19:49, Johannes Böttcher a écrit :
> Not a native english speaker here.
> You threw 'déplacer' into the bowl of words. Wouldn't that be the
> perfect word? A moving argument can be moved to a different place and
> used there as well (captions for example). Personally, i think
> déplacer might be a good fit in this instance. Having the english
> original in parenthesis as well might be another option to decrease
> confusion.
> Johannes


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