Lost And Found – In Translation

“WARNING; the following publication contains opinions and statements, disparaging to the French language and culture, which visitors of Gallic ancestry may find disturbing.  Reader discretion is strongly advised.”

Non-Spanish-speaking Americans, especially in southern areas, are being forced to acquire a working knowledge of that language because of a continuing influx of immigrants – some of them even legal – from Mexico and points south.

Mexico recently observed Cinco de Mayo, a celebration of the defeat of politically interfering French forces.  Of course, if we celebrated for every time French forces were defeated, we’d probably all die of liver failure by the first of August.

Up here in the Great White North, the little cultural terrorists are constantly pushing the rest of Canada to revere the version of French (?) they speak which confuses both Anglophones and Parisian-French speakers alike.  They insist that they are “pur laine” (pure wool) French Catholics, ignoring the fact that even the king of 250 years ago, thought so little of them, that he shipped them boatloads of Protestants and prostitutes.

I know of no other language whose spelling and pronunciation have been so totally changed because of the stupidity, laziness and incompetence of engravers, who could not create the letter S, when movable type became common.  These were replaced by accents, and French words like scole (school), became école (eh coal), and beste (beast/animal) became bête (bet).

Things in Canada, like signs, notices, Government documents, and especially packaging, must be bilingual English/French, everywhere except Quebec, where French-only is the firmly enforced rule.  Many packages – boxes, jars and cans – have a French side, and an English side.  Hormonal, pubescent grocery clerks just pile them on the shelves, willy-nilly.

Armed with the Maximum Daily Allowance of linguistic intolerance and OCD, I can often be seen wandering store aisles, turning the English sides out.  I want peanut butter and oatmeal.  If some Frog wants beurre d’arachides or farine d’avoine, let him look through the clear packaging, or turn the French side out.

When I first began studying French in high school, the instructor proudly declared that “French is the language of diplomats.”  It wasn’t till later that I realized that diplomats are highly skilled at speaking incessantly, for days, weeks, months, even years, without actually saying anything.  It’s a great language for doing that.

French is a language created by morons, to be spoken by morons.  Every word is modified, and then the modifiers are modified, yay, verily, unto the third and fourth level.  French labels take twice or three times the space to say what English says.  French coconut milk is lait de noix de coco – (the) milk, of (the) nuts, of (the) coco (tree).

When a Francophone drinks water, he drinks “de l’eau” (of the water), because he’s dumb enough to believe that, when he starts, he might drink all the water in the world.  French insists that things which aren’t even alive, have gender, usually with no justification.  A pencil (le crayon) is masculine, but a pen (la plume) is feminine.

If BrainRants is leading a squad of recruits, and they meet a French general and his wife, “les hommes levent le chapeau”, 17 guys raise one hat in respect.  French insists that each man has only one hat.  I think they’re building a float for Mardi Gras.

If you’re smart enough to speak English, you’re expected to be smart enough to understand things from context.  French gives you a walker and a white cane.  If you buy Baby Powder, you know that it’s a type or quality suitable for use on babies.  Ignoring Johnson and Johnson’s survey, which reveals that 74% of talcum powder is used by/on adults, French insists that it’s “poudre pour bébés”, powder for babies.  Apparently that distinguishes it from “poudre de bébés,” perhaps made of freeze-dried and ground, aborted French fetuses.

My manly bath gel is Ocean Fresh, an already questionable English marketing claim.  French describes “le fraicheur de la mer” (the freshness of the sea.)  I try not to think of the French product containing whale snot, seal semen, seagull shit, dead fish and rotted kelp.

People who don’t speak English too well (too damned many), have trouble translating into French.  The makers of ketchup directed the guy in their graphics department to put a warning on the plastic bottle, that it needed to be refrigerated after it was opened.

He spoke that it should happen “once” the bottle was opened, not bothering to think that that referred to the (once) first time it occurred.  He looked up “once” in the English/French translation dictionary, and printed “refrigerer une fois ouvert,” (refrigerate one time opened.)

An American goes into a French bistro in Paris and asks the smarmy waiter, “Do you have frogs’ legs?”  “Oui, oui, m’sieur!”  “Well then, hop in the back and get me a real steak!”

No Francophones were injured or killed during the construction of this post.    DAMN!

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12 thoughts on “Lost And Found – In Translation

  1. 1jaded1 says:

    It happens up north, too. My shoestring potatoes, or papitas fritas, are written bi-lingually, yet the package says “Made in the USA.” I’m not complaining, but I do find it a tad ironic.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      Global trade means more and more of that is slipping into Ontario. I might buy that, if I was sure what is was. I think it’s some kind of fruit, not elephants’ testicles. French is rightly ignored, but, sadly, so is English. Cooking instructions in 3, 4, even 5 languages – Italian, Polish, Hebrew and Thai. The only English says, “Packed in Taiwan.”

      Like

  2. shimoniac says:

    Something else that may make you giggle about, is that a women’s two piece swimsuit (a bikini) is, in French, le bikini. Which designates it as the male gender. Shouldn’t that be la bikini?

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      A Male bikini, is the Gay Pride parade coming up?? I know my lunch often does. MUST close eyes, MUST close eyes!! 😦 😕

      Like

      • shimoniac says:

        Of course, a French teacher explained the dichotomy by asking who it was that looked at a bikini, or at least the contents thereof, with the most interest, men or women. Dichotomy solved.

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  3. BrainRants says:

    It’s not just French, really. Anything deriving from Latin is convoluted. However, it is easy to learn, I think. English, even as a native speaker of y’alls King’s English, has yet to master it and shit.

    Like

  4. That’s an excellent point about diplomats. Merci for the good laugh.:-)

    Like

  5. benzeknees says:

    I flew to Cuba with a group of French Canadians, they occupied about 75% of the plane. All announcements were made in French first, they spoke only French to the steward staff. When we arrived at the resort, one of the Cuban bartenders informed us the most hated tourists in Cuba were the French Canadians. All other Canadians were the nicest people in the world.

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