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I am trying to translate a paper from French to English. Here is what I have:

Solliciter de ses élèves de TS la narration de leur recherche permet à l'enseignant de mathématiques d'inciter le plus grand nombre à se lancer dans la résolution d'un problème ouvert.

Using the usual translation sources, I came up with these two

  1. TS student seek the narration of their research helps the teacher of mathematics to encourage the largest number to embark on an open problem. (Google and Bing translate)

  2. Asking TS students to narrate their research help math teacher to to get involved in solving solving open question.

Both of them look weird, and none seems to make sense. What does this sentence mean?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

This sentence uses more big words and subordinate pile-up than needed for the job. It is sadly typical of writing about pedagogy in France.

First, TS is terminale S (scientifique), i.e. the last year of high school with a science curriculum.

Now let's start breaking down the sentence:

(Solliciter (de ses élèves de TS) (la narration (de leur recherche))) permet
(à l'enseignant de mathématiques)
(d'inciter (le plus grand nombre) (à se lancer (dans la résolution (d'un problème ouvert)))).

Your second translation gets the meaning right at the beginning but gets the relationships between actors wrong in the middle. Your first translation completely botches the beginning but gets the end broadly right.

Here's a translation for meaning, keeping the grammatical structure of the original:

Requiring from his TS students that they narrate their research allows
the math teacher
to entice the largest number into attempting to solve an open problem.

Or rearranged into more idiomatic English: if a math teacher requests that his TS students narrate their research, this provides an impetus for many of them to commit themselves into tackling an open problem.

I'll leave the styling and polishing up to you.

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Thanks @Gilles. This does makes perfectly sense. – Deepak Feb 7 '13 at 23:59

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