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?

1 comment:

  1. Zsa Zsa Gabor?
    I wouldn't care too much about the French here. As you say, anything goes! Good luck!