Lost In Translation
August 8, 2013 § 19 Comments
My French is a little rusty.
Actually, it’s a lot rusty. It was a little rusty at its best, when I was younger and could write a few paragraphs of prose that was more or less grammatically correct, but I never did master fast, real-time conversational speech beyond an exchange or two at a time. The only complex sentences that ever popped into my head fully formed were weird ones, the kind of uselessness that one learns in French class: How many pairs of pants does your dog have and what time does he go to school? What is the approximate distance to Brussels by train for myself and my two friends who are not my brothers? How much does this croissant cost and also a newspaper and also this product which I think might be cheese but also might be soap thank you?
They say you’ve really mastered a language when you dream in that language. I had a dream in French once. All I said in the dream was, Où est la bicyclette rouge? (“Where is the red bicycle?”), over and over. Analyze that one, Psych majors.
Anyway. Recently I was working on a project for a client who needed to include some editorial in French. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with finding the red bicycle; so, since what’s left of my French is mostly worthless, I did a little research to make sure the phrasing I came up with was correct. In the process of double-checking, I stumbled upon a site that translates common phrases and questions from English into French:
So, just to recap — this is a site that helps translate phrases English-speaking people often need to use in French. Got it? OK. Now – LOOK AT WHAT THE PHRASES ARE:
- “Do you have friends in Antigua?” – Seriously, how often does that question come up? A lot? I mean, does everyone else have friends in Antigua but me? Why doesn’t anyone in Antigua want to be my friend? WHAT IS IT ABOUT ME?
- “You shouldn’t have paid the bill.” – No. I disagree, in any language. You should ALWAYS pay the bill. Hookers don’t give out free samples, even in France.
- “You really don’t have the right priorities!” – Oh, really? Well, if slathering this delicious baguette with butter and washing it down with red wine are the wrong priorities, I don’t want to be right, Pierre. So bite me.
- “You don’t have to tell that to your parents.” – It’s true. You don’t. They do NOT want to know most things.
- “I have a child.” – Dude, I just said, you do NOT have to tell that to your parents.
- “You have no good reason for thinking as you do.” Does anyone?
- “I don’t have the strength to keep trying.” Yes, you do. I believe in you. Now let’s try this again: You’re a mime. You’re in a glass box. The walls are closing in. Oh, look! A tiny door! Now, just crouch down and pretend to crawl through it. There you go.
As you can see, this translation site is super useful. I almost kept it to myself, so I could lord my superior language skills over everyone else. But because that seemed selfish, I decided to share. So here. Enjoy. Have a cup of coffee and a nice French conversation. Just don’t talk about your friends in Antigua with your parents.
Now I’ve got to go find my red bicycle.