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hence the pun. But in French there are two words, each expressing one of these two meanings. These two words are, entrechat (the dancing term), and câpre (the botanical term). The literal translation, therefore, is out of the question, and an equivalent pun must be sought for, if any can be found. We may, for instance, so translate:
Sir ANDRÉ. Je découpe à merveille un entrechat.
This rendering is, I believe, the nearest possible to the original. And yet, here, we are obliged to use a somewhat vulgar expression; for découper' is rather so in the former sense (découper un entrechat). We generally say, battre (or passer-or faire) un entrechat, ito cut a caper.?. After all
, this somewhat vulgar expression is not in bad keeping with the kind of pun itself.
This scrupulousness must be carried even to the smallest and apparently insignificant details, if we wish to be accounted faithful and skilled translators. Thus we should, also, adapt even common jokes to the ordinary language, habits, or local associationswhether of ideas, words, or sounds, of the people into whose language we translate; we should, in short, have due regard to the minutest points of what is termed in French, couleur locale, 'local colouring. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Bardolph, a vulgar fellow, blunders in this way: “Why, sir, for my part, I say, the gentleman had drunk himself out of his five sentences.” To which Evans says, “ It is his five senses : fie, what the ignorance is !” All this we shall render :
“ Pour ce qui est de moi, je dis que monsieur était tellement gris, qu'il en avait perdu les cinq essences.”
-“ L'ignorant ! il veut dire les cinq sens. Translating sentences' by sentences would hardly have done. The question here, is to know what, in a similar circumstance, would be the most likely, because the most natural, blunder which an ignorant French person would make. The French word sentences (pronounced like the singular, as if there were no s) does not resemble much, in sound, the word sens (the final s must be pronounced here), as, in English, “sentences sounds pretty nearly like 'senses. For this reason, therefore, has the French word essences been substituted, in the translation, for sentences, merely on account of the above-mentioned similarity in sound, which it was necessary to observe, though it is not the translation of the English word, but because it answers more to the spirit of
Remember, besides, that a translation is not good which, in a characteristic dialogue, does not render a familiar, or even a vulgar expression, by the corresponding one or by an equivalent; by, in
short, another expression just as familiar or as vulgar. The difficulty is, of course, to give one neither more nor less_so, and it is necessary to have read books on all sorts of subjects (I mean, good books, as may well be supposed), or to have seen much of a foreign country, in order to be acquainted with expressions used by different classes of people—the lower as well as the more polite. But this must be done, or our translation will be inferior in an important respect, namely the delineation of character. In short, always adapt your style to the subject; the one must ever rise or descend with the other in an exact ratio.
Now, with reference to proverbs. I will suppose the casewhich frequently happens where an English proverb has no equivalent in French. Yet you are to translate it, as a proverb, in such a way as to at least give it in French the shape of one,you are, in fact, to make a proverb yourself, to a certain extent, and so far as the words are concerned. In such a predicament, you
have only to observe what the general forms of proverbs are, in French. These forms are pretty nearly similar, after all, in almost every language; and reading, as well as observing carefully, will soon make you familiar with them, whilst your own taste and judgment will point to you which form among them all is the best adapted to any particular case. You will have, first, always to adopt that brief, general
, and dogmatic way of presenting the idea, which is one of the peculiarities of proverbs. You may also, sometimes, but sparingly however, follow the system of alliteration (and whether such a habit is good or bad in itself, is another question) so frequently met with in proverbs, in nearly all languages. Ex.:—Birds of a feather flock together, and the French corresponding proverb, Qui se ressemble s'assemble. In Spanish, likewise, 'Quien bien ata, bien desata,' which corresponds to 'Safe bind, safe find. In Italian, 'Amor e signoria non voglion compagnia,' which means, Love and lordship like not fellowship.' In German, ' Bist Du schuldig, sey geduldig, which corresponds to ‘He that cannot pay, let him pray;'&c. &c. Observe, more
French proverbs begin by Qui (an abbreviation, here, of Quiconque, 'whosoever'), or Tel, followed by qui,—but very seldom does any begin by Celui (or Ceux) qui (as English proverbs do very often, on the contrary, by 'He that," "He who, They that," "They who'); or, again, by On, Les, and words conveying a general meaning. I should advise you, as a good study of proverbs, to peruse attentively Poor Richard, by Franklin, in this volume, and to compare with the text the
renderings in the notes. I have taken care to put the word (PROVERB) thus, in a parenthesis and in small capitals, whenever the rendering is a corresponding French proverb; and when it is not, you will then
have an opportunity of seeing how the translation must be managed in such a case.
Finally, if, in a sentence, you have, as will frequently occur, to effect a change of turn in several of its parts, be careful not to lose sight, in the confusion arising from either the complication or the transposition or both together-of words, of any of the ideas conveyed, whether expressly or implicitly, in the original. I know by experience that students often do so, and for this reason I insist on the point, which will be made clearer by means of an example or two.
A Fox stole into a vineyard where the ripe sunny grapes were trellised up on high in most tempting show.”2_Un renard se glissa furtivement (or, s'introduisit) dans une vigne où des raisins mûrs et vermeils étaient exposés au haut d'une treille de la manière la plus appétissante. Now, in this translation, there is not an idea conveyed by any word, or association of words, in the English, which has not been fully rendered, although the transformation in the words themselves has been somewhat great, for a beginner, at least, in the business of translation (but nothing compared to other more difficult and intricate propositions). For, exposés corresponds to 'show' and to the idea partly conveyed by the use of the passive verb 'were trellised up, whilst treille corresponds to the other idea conveyed by the use of that same verb; au haut de corresponds to ‘on high; and de la manière corresponds to the idea implied in the use of the verb “trellised up' together with that of in a show,' for 'in,' here, indicates the manner,' the way the fact was taking place. Let me adduce another example :
A bribe in hand betrays mischief at heart.” —Tel coupable se dend qui croyait acheter autrui. Tel is here used as the beginning of a kind of maxim, or proverb, a form suitable to the moral of a fable; coupable answers to “mischief at heart;' se vend (betrays himself) is nearly literal; croyait answers to 'in hand,' showing the intention, the expectation; and, finally, acheter autrui (to buy up another) answers to A bribe.”—Observe, moreover, that the antithesis of ‘in hand’ and at heart,' in the English, has been faithfully preserved, by the use of acheter and vendre.
I believe I have now told you all that may be of use to you, in a general way, in the course of this work, and I do trust your translations of the following extracts will be the better for these hints.
(1) This is taken from the excellent and well-known work, entitled James's Fables of Æsop, and published by Mr. John Murray. See page 1, Fable 1.
(2) James's Fables of Æsop, moral of Fable CXVII., page 83.
FRENCH PROSE COMPOSITION.
A DERVIS, travelling through Tartary, being arrived at the town of Balck, went into the king's palace by mistake, thinking it to be a public inn or caravansary. Having looked about for some time, he entered into a long gallery, where he laid down his wallet and spread his carpet, in order to repose himself upon it, after the manner of the Eastern nations. He had not been long in this position, before he was 3 discovered by some of the guards, who asked him what was his business 4 in that place. The dervis told them he5 intended to take up his night's lodging6 in that caravansary. The guards let him know, in a very angry manner, that the house he was in 8 was not a caravansary, but the king's palace. It happened that the king hiroself passed through the gallery during this debate, and, smiling at the mistake of the dervis, asked him how
1 qui voyageait. The use of the student will observe here the difpresent participle twice in this way, ference in the use of the imperfect without any conjunction, would not tense était, and of the perfect be considered elegant in French. fut. The perfect, in French, im
par mégarde, le prenant pour. plies a beginning and an end of This turn, thinking it to be,' the fact; the imperfect does not. would not be French; but we ce qu'il venait faire. might say, correctly enough, pen- 5 This ellipsis of the conjunction sant que c'était.
(that' is not allowed in French. 3 il n'y avait pas long-temps
se loger pour la nuit. qu'il était .... lorsqu'il fut; or, 7 lui firent savoir. Il n'était pas depuis long-temps
8 The ellipsis of the relative proqu'il fut. , Que, in the latter noun is not permitted in French, phrase, is used elliptically, and nor is the preposition to be thus rather elegantly, for lorsque. The placed after the verb.
he could possibly be so dull as not1 to distinguish a palace from a caravansary. “Sire, give me leave to ask your majesty? a question or two. Who were the persons that lodged in this house when it was first built ?!?4 The king replied, “ My ancestors.” “ And who,” says the dervis, was the last person who lodged here ?"5 The king replied, “ My father.” “And who is it,” says the
” dervis, “ that lodges here at present ?" The king told him that it was he himself. “And who,” says the dervis, “ will be here after you ?” The king answered, young prince, my son. “Ah, Sire,” said the dervis, “a house that changes its inhabitants so often, and receives such a perpetual successions of guests, is not a palace, but a caravansary.”—ADDISON, Spectator.)
A TURKISH TALE. We are told that the Sultan Mahmoud, by his perpetual wars abroad and his tyranny at home,10 had filled his dominions with ruin and desolation, and half unpeopled the Persian empire. The vizier toll this great sultan (whether a humorist or an enthusiast, we are not informed)12 pretended to have learnt of a certain dervis to understand the language of birds,13 so that there was not a bird that could open his mouth but 14 the vizier knew what it was he said. 15
As he was one evening with the sultan, on 1 comment il pouvait être assez 8 et reçoit ainsi une suite perstupide (or, assez niais) pour ne pétuelle. pas.
9 On nous apprend; or, L'his2 permettez-moi de faire à votre toire nous apprend. majesté.
19 abroad, in this sense, au deQui (or, Qui est-ce qui) a logé. hors, or à l'extérieur, or à l'étran4 dans les premiers temps ; or,
ger; "at home,' likewise au dedans, quand elle était neuve.
à l'intérieur. y a logé en der
on ne nous le dit point. nier lieu ?
13 des oiseaux. This important que c'était lui-même.
and well-known rule, to which it qui change së (or, aussi) sou- would be needless to do more than vent d'habitoints. Notice here this advert here, must be borne in use of the preposition de, after the mind. verb changer, with reference to
que, with the subjunctive. objects of the same nature.
5 Et qui.