Category Archives: French

To walk

Walk  –  to move along or travel on foot at a moderate rate; to advance in such a manner that at least one foot is always on the ground, but always to advance and not retreat and wallow in the misery of hate.

“To walk the talk,” to set by example that which we demand of others.

brooklyn-bridge

Promenade – pour se marche à pied à un rythme modéré; Pour avancer de telle manière qu’au moins un pied soit toujours sur le sol, mais toujours pour avancer et ne pas reculer et étouffer dans la misère de la haine.

“Faut-il joindre le geste à la parole,” par exemple devenir ce que nous demandons aux autres.

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Mr. Nobody

skydivingNobodiness is a malady
That affects almost everybody.
Won’t somebody tell everybody,
Sir or madam, as the case may be,
Won’t you please, please, please
Say a kind word to me

It is bloody hell being a nobody
One damn day after another

Some things are lost in translation.

Les nullités sont seuls modestes.

Nur die Lumpen sind bescheiden.

Je ne comprends pas

I am not one to wish for much, money have I not, I dream of simple things, good books, quiet summer days, being alone, or with somebody who understands these things, and finding none, I scream.

Je ne souhaite pas beaucoup, l’argent n’ai-je pas, je rêve de choses simples, de bons livres, de tranquilles journées d’été, d’être seul ou avec quelqu’un qui comprend ces choses, et en ne trouvant personne, je crie.

scream_2
Edvard Munch, The scream

Funny is the thought that had I money, louder would I scream.

Ich bin ein kleines Kind und Geld habe ich nicht. Darum, ich bin nicht einer um viel zu wünschen, ich träume von einfachen Dingen, ruhigen Sommertagen, Bäume zu klettern, um die Welt zu sehen, allein oder mit jemandem, der diese Dinge versteht und keine findet, schreie ich.

le mot

word-german_bible

Un nom, c’est juste un mot
Rien de plus ni moins
Qui, seul, attend un verbe avant
Qu’il ne remonte de son sommeil
Alors, il vit, il aime bien
Il sourit et rit et pleure parfois

Et dois le verbe
Décide de partir et cherche et conjoint
Un autre nom
Le nom ne parle plus
Et meurt une mort
Solitaire

Si tu ne comprend pas les mots francais

A noun is just a word
Alone, it waits for a verb
Before it stirs from its sleep
Then, it lives and loves
And laughs and cries

Now should the verb
Decide to leave
And find another spouse
The noun speaks no more
And dies a lonely death

words_font

Good company

Il n’y a pas tant d’hommes de bonne fortune comme il y a des jolies femmes pour les méritons. Jane Austin

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My idea of good company is the company of well-informed people who have lots of clever conversation. That is what I call good company.

Lacking that, I find that a good chair will suffice. Alone, to sit in the shade and gaze upon God’s green earth is the most perfect refreshment. There, I can escape the unpleasant thought that there are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them.

Mainly Jane Austin

There are too many quotes on good company to quote them all. I’ll just leave you with this:

En général, l’espoir n’est pas un bon guide, mais il est la bonne compagnie et souvent tout ce que vous avez.

Hope is generally not a good guide but it is good company and too often all you’ve got.

Very big words

yes-no

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C. S. Lewis

yes

Choisissez des petits mots, ils sont courts et précis, mais ne dit ‘oui’ quand tu veux dire ‘non’.

The importance of being human

“Ha, ha, ha” is how we write laughter, but it is no substitute for the real thing.

An American English major visiting the chateaux along the Loire, needing mightily take a leak, spots a French pissoir.

Going in he is Russian. Inside he is European. Leaving he’s Finnish.

When done, is he Danish?

Without humans, there would be no humor in the world, no laughter nor guffaws, and not even the hint of a smirk. A bird flying from pole to pole would find, on returning home to his nest for a well earned rest, sadly not even a smile.

smile

There once was a movie called Truman
That asked, “Is it important to be human?”
Said the fly as he visits the freshly laid turd,
If man was gone from the face of the earth,
Would one cockroach care?

Une fois un film a été appelé Truman
Qui demandé, « Est-il important d’être humain? »
Dit la mouche comme il visite l’étron fraîchement pondus,
Si l’homme avait disparu de la face de la terre,
Voudrais les cafards cesseraient-ils?

Einmal war ein Film Truman genannt
Das fragte: „Ist es wichtig, ein Mensch zu sein?“
Sagte die Fliege, als er die frisch gelegte Kackwurst besucht,
Wenn der Mensch aus der Erde verschwunden,
Würde Kakerlaken unglücklich sein?

loreno (7)

To be or not the bee

To be or not the bee

bee

Let it be Rosemarie

Don’t read this, it’s meant
Just for me and not for you
Who stumbled on this poem
Just by accident.

Like Rosemarie
Who smelled a pretty red, red rose
Dreaming of her handsome sweet, sweet love
And so, was stung by a bee

Was it on her lip or on her nose?
I’ll let you guess
What became
Of Rosemarie, her love and the bee

Comme ce soit c’est fois

Ne lisez pas cela
C’est seul pour moi
Pas pour toi
Qui a arrive a ce poème
Juste par accidentellement
Comme Rosemarie
Qui sentait une rose rouge rouge
Rêver de son amour doux doux
Et a été piqué par une abeille
Était-ce sur sa lèvre ou nez?
Je vous laisse deviner

bee-in-the-approach

Nothing Gold Can Stay – Robert Frost

dandelion-seed

Just a word before I go. It seems we are forever saying farewell. Often we say it casually, in which case, “goodbye” is appropriate. Now, if one wants to interject a little feeling into the goodbye, one says “farewell”. “Fare thee well” if one likes pomposity and English verse.

Farewell also suggests a more permanent departure. In the military, staff and friends put on a “hale and farewell” for departing members of a unit. Hail and Farewell being a translation of “ave atque vale”, Gaius Valerius Catullus’ last words of the poem Carmen 101.

All this leads me to the thought that nothing is permanent. Goodbyes and farewells are in order. And as I will be away for a few days, I will just say “goodbye” or maybe “so long”.

Personally I have always like the French way, saying “À bientôt!”

Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay was first published in 1923 and is I believe still under copyright. For that reason, I will quote only the first two lines and the last two in English and give the full translation into French. Therefore, it is an academic study and exempt from copyright laws.

If not, I will hear a “hello” from someone.

Premier vert de la nature est l’or,
Difficile sa teinte à tenir.
Au début sa feuille une fleur;
Seulement si une heure.
Puis la feuille affaisse à la feuille.
Alors Eden a sombré à la douleur,
Comme l’aube va à jour.
Rien de l’or ne restera.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.

So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

butterflies-wide

April’s sweet showers

butterflies-wide

Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: Modern English, French, and original Middle English,

 

Modern English

English did not become modern until William Shakespeare and the King James translation of the Bible, a fact that will surprise many “modern” high school English students.

When April with its sweet showers
Hath pierced the drought of March to its root,
And bathed every vein in such liquor
By which virtue engenders the flower;

When the West Wind also with his sweet breath,
Has inspired In every woodland and field
The tender crops, and the young sun
Has half its course within the sign of Aries run,

And small fowls make melody,
That sleep all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them in their hearts),
Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,

And pilgrims to seek strange shores,
To distant shrines, known in sundry lands;
And specially from every shire’s end
Of England to Canterbury wind their way,
The holy blessed martyr to seek
Who helped them when they were sick.

Language Barriers

When I was a little boy the joke was told,
Q: Why did Peter throw the butter out the window?
A: To see the butterfly.

It is a joke that works in English but not in French, since butterfly in French is papillon.

Language barriers are large but none so great as that observed by the Welsh and English cleric Matthew Henry, There are none so deaf and none so blind, as they who refuse to see and will not listen.

French

Quand avril avec ses douces douches
La sécheresse de mars à sa racine a percé ,
Et a baigné toutes les veines dans une telle liqueur
Par quoi la vertu engendre la fleur;

Quand le Vent de l’Ouest aussi avec son doux souffle,
A inspiré dans tous les bois et champs
Les plantes tendres et le jeune soleil
A couru la moitié du cours en Bélier,

Et les petites volailles chante la mélodie,
Qui dormir toute la nuit avec l’œil ouvert
(Donc la nature les pique dans leurs coeurs),
Ensuite, les gens souhaitaient faire des pèlerinages,

Et les pèlerins cherchent des rivages étranges,
Aux sanctuaires lointains, connus dans les terres diverses;
Et surtout depuis la fin de chaque cours
De l’Angleterre à Canterbury se promène,
Le saint béni martyr à chercher
Qui les a aidés quand ils étaient malades.

Middle English

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 25 October 1400) is the grand daddy of English literature. Thank God he wrote in the vernacular and not in Latin as had been the custom. English is the most polyglot of languages and one may observe in Chaucer’s English bits of French, German, and Latin sprinkled throughout.

If one looks at the words of Chaucer and then listens to the sound, much of the meaning will become clear.

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Lost in Translation

Even the most literal of translations can be deceiving. That is a good thing for it means that Google Translate will forever require human intervention to determine the meaning of the words.

Listen is an active verb and if you don’t know what that means you haven’t been listening.

We do not know from a casual reading of The Prologue that the “ram” refers to Aries and the sign of the Zodiac that coincides with spring. Zephirius (Zepher) is the West Wind personified. The word priketh (prick) is a double entendre. Palmeres are those who carry the palm, a custom Roman Catholics continue to observe on Palm Sunday.

Otherwise, I try to stay true to the path Chaucer has taken. There are other translations. Mine is as literally as possible. Better to listen and learn.

flower-meadow-crop