It is almost impossible not to judge a translation on a sign when you see one. You look at the English, then back at the French, then back at the English. If German or Italian is there too, and you have the time, you compare those too. Often you will notice that it is not the same – the sense may be different, the implications could be different, but most often of all, the politiness level is rarely the same: French signs tend to assume you are an 18th century aristocrat taking the metro, while the English version assumes that you have a vocabulary of 20 words. And of course, sometimes, it is exactly the same.
But rarely do you really feel like one language “wins” by really nailing it, unless, that is, it is a name. If you didn’t already look at the accompanying picture, then this would be a good time to do so. Indeed. I propose that from now on, we only speak of the Forest Eagle Owl in French. Le Grand-Duc du Népal, at your service.
(Picture taken in the Ménagerie, Paris V)