Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rough draft finished!

It's amazing how nice it feels to be done a rough draft of the novel!

Equally amazing, however, is the impression that I'm nowhere near finishing it... Next comes the rereads and the rewrites and the edits. I'm already part way through my first edit, or my second draft, or whatever. My main concern in this draft is the actual parts of the text that I don't understand. And because my mother tongue is English, a lot of this has to do with French turns of phrase or expressions or slang words I don't know. So please, anyone, fill me in if you have any idea about the following:

On dit qu'il est pingre car c'est un "ramasseux", les gens huppés qui colonisent la region au sud de la rivière Diable, au volant de leurs Porche Cayenne, diraient un wabo.

They say he’s tight-fisted because he’s a hoarder. The upper-class Porche Cayenne-driving people that colonize the south shore of Diable River would call him a wabo.

I've never heard that word before in my life. The only thing I can find on the Internet is that Van Halen song called Cabo Wabo... Here's a hilarious commercial from 1989 featuring those ridiculous men.

And then some of the problems I'm running into have nothing to do with language.  At one point, Philippe is up on the roof en train de galvaniser un trou = galvanizing a hole. Now, our friend Wikipedia says that galvanization is "the process of applying a protective metallic coating to an underlying piece of metal, in order to prevent rusting." As Philippe is up there galvanizing, the cops drive by and he tenses up, he's terrified that he's been found out for his huge opium processing venture. His eyelids contract with fear and he starts blinking excessively, but il continue à clouer. He keeps hammering. Or nailing. Or whatever. But the thing is - and forgive me if this is a ridiculous question, perhaps it makes perfect sense for him do be doing this, and if so, please enlighten me, but - why would he be swinging a hammer at all? 

PS - Check out this comic on Mox's blog... inspired by yours truly. The "autopsy reports" were really a course pack for an embalming course at a technical college... yuck!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The dictionary of rare and obscure words.

A somewhat similar issue as the previous one. Not translating a pun, but rather a rare word from French to English. Émile, in love with a vicar, is paging through her Dictionary of Rare and Precious Words (her Dictionnaire des mots rares et précieux, although in English maybe précieux should be 'obscure'? Or 'unusual'?) and there finds les plus beaux mots du monde:

abstème: (n.) a priest who is exempted from drinking from the chalice because of an acute aversion to wine.

oblatif(ve): (adj.) placing the needs of others before one's own.

I'm not sure an English equivalent exists for the first, but there is the adjective 'abstemious', meaning "not self-indulgent, esp. when eating and drinking." It loses the religious aspect, though, which is sort of important here. The second might be best translated as 'agape'. In the Deus Caritas Est, a document written by the current Pope Benedict XVI, the distinction is made between possessive love (Eros) and unconditional, self-sacrificing love (Agape). But... is agape a rare/obscure word? Maybe not so much, with over 17 million hits on the trusty old Goog. Any other ideas?


Monday, July 11, 2011

How to translate a pun

I can only imagine the agony of the translator who elects to translate a poem. The sound of the words is a huge factor in a lot of poetry, and that just can't be recreated without a lot of thought, if it is, indeed, possible at all.  I have a bit of a problem of a similar ilk. Anouk finds out the name of her husband's mistress: Sophie Zalewski.

Elle est polonaise d'origine et ma mère déforme son nom, en fait des calembours: Zalou, Zoulou, Zouzou, Zaza.
Now, I don't even know if "Zalou" means anything, other than referring to Zalewski. But.

Zoulou = Zulu

Zouzou was the name of an iconic French supermodel of the 60s and 70s.

Zaza?? I've heard that it may be the feminine version of "zizi" which is a child's diminutive for male genitals (like "weenie" or "willy"... I don't even know if there is common English diminutive for a lady's bits... "coochy-coo"? "hoo-ha"? I know my parents told me it was a "suzy", which is weird, because I now know at least 3 or 4 women named Suzy, and it makes me laugh.)

So. Whatever. Anything goes. I can even probably change the original name to make the rhyming words better, but if I go with Zalewski: "Zaloo, zulu, little rabbit foo-foo, go and take a poo poo..."

I dunno. Any suggestions?