And the Word in Birmingham was: décliner. A favourite of translators and interpreters.

posted 25 Nov 2009, 01:53 by Kennedy Paver
Actually (to continue a trend that started in the previous post), it usually appears as two words: se décliner. It's one of those nasty little terms that translators and interpreters love to hate.
I once came across the following phrase while interpreting on-site at a power plant: "Le contrat de gestion se décline en contrats de management". Given that "contrat de gestion" is often translated as "management contract", where does that leave us? It's actually about two different levels of "performance agreement" (a much better rendering), and once you have understood that, you start to get some indication of the meaning of "se décliner".
It's often translated into management-speak in English as "deployed" or "implemented" - the basic notion is actually not that far from the sense of "declining" a verb. It means that a "whole" or single entity, possibly comprising a number of components, appears, or is somehow implemented, structured or put into practice, in different ways or in separate or different contexts or environments. But that's an absurdly complex attempt at an explanation, so I'll try again: "se décliner" is most likely to mean "to be implemented" or "to be deployed". There. Challenges on a postcard to the usual address...
The actual phrase I came across this week was:
L’action de la direction des Achats se décline au sein de chaque entité légale par...
A real shocker, obviously, but from what I've said above it's clear that something like "implemented" would be a good rendering of "se décline" here. So next time you see it, don't be scared. And don't quote me.
You'll usually have to beat the hell out of the phrase to get it to make sense in English, though...