Spiffies and Loonies Volume One

You can read for free episode 5 of my sitcom Spiffies and Loonies.

 

http://www.lulu.com/shop/jean-paul-g-potet/spiffies-and-loonies/paperback/product-22120507.html

 

It's the English-only edition of the bilingual English-French original Extrapolations. The French-only version is titled Fringues et Dingues.

Criticisms of the texts are welcome.

Comments

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    I say this only because you asked, of course, and with all respect:

     

    The English translation sounds as if it is being spoken by a Francophone. The words are correct and make sense, and they convey the correct meaning, but the choice of word order is distinctly Gaullic. As an example, consider this passage:

     

    "Yes, with my umbrella. I bought it from McLoud's near the marketplace. I recommend you this firm. They are completely reliable people. You can go there and mention my name. They know me well. They will be delighted to make your acquaintance. So what happens at this moment?"

     

    The phrases in blue would never be spoken by a native speaker of English. "I recommend this firm to you" would be the preferred order, and "They are very reliable" would be a more likely usage. "So what would happen then?" -- a distinct conditional case -- would be the proper usage instead of the conditional present, "What happens at this moment?"

    As I said, this is a matter of idiom and usage, and not a matter of correct word choices.

     

    Also, I think that you might choose a more colloquial title. "Fringues Et Dingues" rolls off the tongue nicely, but "Spiffies and Loonies" sounds like it has been translated. Perhaps something more like "Freaks and Geeks" (in common parlance now, a Freak would be someone strange, and a Geek would be a person with more technical knowledge than "common sense").

     

    I hope that you find that helpful.

  • Skoob_Ym, I am so grateful for your remarks.

    Do you have UK or US English in mind?

    Actually I wrote Spiffies and Loonies in English, then translated it into French as Fringues et Dingues.

    Gallicisms in an English text written by a French-speaking person are inevitable ... and should be corrected. I am contemplating a revision by a native speaker of English.

    The titles present the greatest difficulties. They were created in parallel. One doesn't actually translate the other, but they hinge on the same images - well-dressed reasonable people Vs insane ones characterized by freakish clothes and behaviours.

    Thanks a lot for the suggestion Freaks and Geeks. Indeed a good one.

     

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭
    I am thinking of US English, since I have yet to have the pleasure of visiting the UK.

    In retrospect if the Spiffies are well-dressed, then I might modify my suggestion to Chics and Freaks, or something along that line. Chic has entered English as a borrow-word, at least in the US.

    The story line certainly had a UK feel. I found myself thinking of Benny Hill. And also of a TV show called "Are you being served?"

  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :
    I am thinking of US English, since I have yet to have the pleasure of visiting the UK.

    In retrospect if the Spiffies are well-dressed, then I might modify my suggestion to Chics and Freaks, or something along that line. Chic has entered English as a borrow-word, at least in the US.

    The story line certainly had a UK feel. I found myself thinking of Benny Hill. And also of a TV show called "Are you being served?"
    I was asking you this because "completely reliable" is quite a standard phrase.in UK English. I checked it yesterday on the Internet, and it came up with many occurrences.
    My sitcom is a spoof, and the characters are half-way between cartoon silhouettes and full-fledged ones. I love Benny Hill, but my preference goes to Jeeves and Wooster both in the old black-and-white version (1960s), and the colour one with Stephen Fry (Jeeves) and Hugh Lauries (Bertie Wooster).
    I use "spiffies" because of the compliment "You are quite spiffy today", which incidentally echoes "Vous êtes bien attifé aujourd'hui." in French. The two lead male characters are fashion models; for one, Tony, it's a front because he is a CIA agent; for the other, Brad, who is British, it's just a way to collect money in view of his research because he is a student in marine archeology. Except when they model, they dress casually, but mingle with chicly dressed yuppies. Because of their modelling activities, the lead female characters first wonder if they are gays; they quickly realize they are not, and eventually marry them. These four characters contrast with my dear loonies, like Mrs. Van Moo, that are the ones who make the story roll.
    Thanks a lot for all your suggestions.
     

     


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    . I recommend you this firm 

    . "I recommend this firm to you" would be the preferred order,


     

    You are right. This is definitely a gallicism.

    The standard expression is without "you" : "I recommend this firm."
    Then, as you suggest "to you" can be added. "Recommend" and its object should not separated. 
    Several other gallicims must have escaped me.

     

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    . I recommend you this firm 

    . "I recommend this firm to you" would be the preferred order,


     

    You are right. This is definitely a gallicism.

    The standard expression is without "you" : "I recommend this firm."
    Then, as you suggest "to you" can be added. "Recommend" and its object should not separated. 
    Several other gallicims must have escaped me.

     


    If it is a consolation, my French is considerably worse than your English. I use too many prepositions, and for lack of a simpler word, often wind up with long twisted sentences.

     

    I am trying, partly as a study exercise, to translate a book by Count Tolstoy into English from French. I have never seen such long and convoluted sentences... It makes me wonder if that was because he was writing in French while thinking in Russian, but I know that the Russian gentry of his age were fluent in French.


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

     "So what would happen then?" -- a distinct conditional case -- would be the proper usage


     

    Actually my mistake begins at the top of the page because "suppose" requests the unreal aspect in the ensuing development, including after the digression about the umbrella shop, while I wrongly used the real aspect. So the verbal forms should be : stayed, pressed, would happen, etc.

    Thanks a lot for drawing my attention to this mistake.

     


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    If it is a consolation, my French is considerably worse than your English. I use too many prepositions, and for lack of a simpler word, often wind up with long twisted sentences.

     

    I am trying, partly as a study exercise, to translate a book by Count Tolstoy into English from French. I have never seen such long and convoluted sentences... It makes me wonder if that was because he was writing in French while thinking in Russian, but I know that the Russian gentry of his age were fluent in French.


    Congratulations.

    Last year. I read a book written directly in French by a modern Russian author (Le testament français by Andreï Makine). His French is flawless and beautiful. Sometimes such authors have to use rare terms only used in the Russian context, but that do exist in French, such as télègue "four-wheeled horse-drawn wagon or dray",  théoticon "God's Mother", laure "Russian orthodox monastery", etc. Otherwise I didn't notice their French sounded Russian.

    What is the title of the book, you are translating?

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    "Ma Confession," which one will sometimes see titled "Confession" in English. Apparently it was suppressed in Russia in its day, and could only be published in French. I read the English translation in 1986 -- I found it in a bookstore in Canada -- and have had no luck at all in finding a copy recently. Or at least not a reasonably-priced copy in English. Hence my project.

     

    I am finding a combination of breathtakingly clear and brilliant phrasings, alternating with paragraph-long sentences that don't always seem to have a main clause. I was just last night observing a thought structure in which a series of sentences began with "I searched, not as ..." and described the steps in this portion of his intellectual journey. Brilliant writing. But three pages before, there was a very convoluted thought that I had to read seven times, and then consult my dictionary repeatedly. I was left uncertain whether the point under discussion embarrassed him in the present, looking back, or was embarrassing to him even as he clung to it, implying that he knew it to be wrong. I finally decided from the context that it was the former.

     

    I have resolved, whenever I become lost in a kilometer-long sentence, to translate by the word until I reach the end, knowing that I will have a lot to clean up in the editing and revision process. The hope that keeps me going is the knowledge that the Count's ideas and his writing are so brilliant and powerful.


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    " paragraph-long sentences that don't always seem to have a main clause. [...] a very convoluted thought that I had to read seven times, and then consult my dictionary repeatedly. [...] a kilometer-long sentence, to translate by the word until I reach the end, knowing that I will have a lot to clean up in the editing and revision process.


    This type of long, convoluted sentence is called "une période" in French. Perhaps, the English term is "period".  I came across several ones in a Tagalog novel I translated into French, Lázaro FRANCISCO's Amá "Father" (1929), under the title "Maître Tace". The very opening sentence is a period. It took me a long time to set it right.

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/l%C3%A1zaro-francisco/ma%C3%AEtre-tace/hardcover/product-21330186.html


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    "Ma Confession," which one will sometimes see titled "Confession" in English. Apparently it was suppressed in Russia in its day, and could only be published in French. I read the English translation in 1986 -- I found it in a bookstore in Canada -- and have had no luck at all in finding a copy recently. Or at least not a reasonably-priced copy in English. Hence my project.


    I haven't read it. Are you sure it was directly written in French? The edition available from Amazon France is a translation from the Russian. Wikipedia presents it as a Russian book that was banned by the Orthodox Church.

     

     

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    " paragraph-long sentences that don't always seem to have a main clause. [...] a very convoluted thought that I had to read seven times, and then consult my dictionary repeatedly. [...] a kilometer-long sentence, to translate by the word until I reach the end, knowing that I will have a lot to clean up in the editing and revision process.


    This type of long, convoluted sentence is called "une période" in French. Perhaps, the English term is "period".  I came across several ones in a Tagalog novel I translated into French, Lázaro FRANCISCO's Amá "Father" (1929), under the title "Maître Tace". The very opening sentence is a period. It took me a long time to set it right.

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/l%C3%A1zaro-francisco/ma%C3%AEtre-tace/hardcover/product-21330186.html


    I am glad to know that I am not the only one who has faced this issue. I was worried about my translating skills when I first reached the end of a sentence and had no idea what the sentence was about.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    "Ma Confession," which one will sometimes see titled "Confession" in English. Apparently it was suppressed in Russia in its day, and could only be published in French. I read the English translation in 1986 -- I found it in a bookstore in Canada -- and have had no luck at all in finding a copy recently. Or at least not a reasonably-priced copy in English. Hence my project.


    I haven't read it. Are you sure it was directly written in French? The edition available from Amazon France is a translation from the Russian. Wikipedia presents it as a Russian book that was banned by the Orthodox Church. 


    I am basing this on the preface of the French version that I am using as a source.

     

    I do know, independently, that several of Tolstoy's later works were banned in Russia because he was critical of the Russian Church. While this book does not directly assualt the Russian Orthodoxy, he strongly implies that a leading cause of deconversions to atheism was that the Church did not adequately present the faith. In another book, The Kingdom of God is Within You, Tolstoy expressly remarks on having had to publish abroad because he was not granted permission to print his books in Russia.

     

    The Kingdom of God is Within You is intensively critical or the Russian Orthodox faith, and some of his remarks are so sharply cutting as to draw blood: For example he questions why there are holidays commemorating the day that "Some lunatic saw a vision." The work itself is heretical, even to me as a very tolerant Baptist, and I fully understand why it would have been rejected on Russian soil. So it is plausible, at least, that his other works of that period were also forbidden.

     

    Ma Confession is more critical of the intellectual environment of Russia and Europe during the late 19th century. Even though he was one of the "High Priest" of the intelligensia of his day. I must acknowledge that the man wrote with a simple and elegant point of view. Brilliant writer.


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    potetjp wrote:

    I haven't read it. Are you sure it was directly written in French? The edition available from Amazon France is a translation from the Russian.


    I am basing this on the preface of the French version that I am using as a source.

     


    Oh! Perhaps some sleuthing would unveil this mystery;

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    "Ma Confession," which one will sometimes see titled "Confession" in English. Apparently it was suppressed in Russia in its day, and could only be published in French. I read the English translation in 1986 -- I found it in a bookstore in Canada -- and have had no luck at all in finding a copy recently. Or at least not a reasonably-priced copy in English. Hence my project.


    I haven't read it. Are you sure it was directly written in French? The edition available from Amazon France is a translation from the Russian. Wikipedia presents it as a Russian book that was banned by the Orthodox Church.


    I looked at this more closely. The preface says,

     

    Cette livre n'a jamais ete publie en Russie (this book has never been published in Russia).

     

     

    I misread this as,

     

    Cette livre n'a jamais ete publie en russe (this book has never been published in Russian).

     

    The mistake is mine. Also, I see that there is a translator's name just ahead of the editeur. 

  •  


    Skoob_Ym a écrit :
    The preface says,

     

    Cette livre n'a jamais ete publie en Russie (this book has never been published in Russia).

     

     

    I misread this as,

     

    Cette livre n'a jamais ete publie en russe (this book has never been published in Russian).

     

    The mistake is mine. Also, I see that there is a translator's name just ahead of the editeur. 


    "Ce livre n'a jamais été publié en Russie."

    The problem is solved. thanks.

    Does it say where the original was published? Many countries in Western Europe are possible. I'd start first with Austria, then France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. There is a long tradition in Vienna / Wien to publish books in foreigh languages. For instance FAVRE's Malay-French dictionary (1875) was published there. There is also the polyglot publisher of the Vatican to be considered. For example, DESMAISON'S's Persian-French dictionary (1907-1914) was published at the Vatican, although the author lived in Paris, had studied Persian in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, and been the French embassador in Persia.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    l'Editeur, Albert Savine, wrote:

     

    Confession trop franche pour] être tolérée dans un pays où la pensée même est sévèrement contrôlée, il n'a circulé dès l'année 1882 qu'en nombreux manuscrits parmi la société intelligente de toute la Russie. Ensuite, à Genève, il a eu deux éditions, dont la dernière date de 1886.


    Apparently, then, it was published in Geneva.

     

    Also, the translator is listed as Sophia Andreyna Tolstoya, presumably a relative of the author, but not a daughter (her father would have been named Andrei).


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    l'Editeur, Albert Savine, wrote:

     

    Confession trop franche pour] être tolérée dans un pays où la pensée même est sévèrement contrôlée, il n'a circulé dès l'année 1882 qu'en nombreux manuscrits parmi la société intelligente de toute la Russie. Ensuite, à Genève, il a eu deux éditions, dont la dernière date de 1886.


    Apparently, then, it was published in Geneva.

     

    Also, the translator is listed as Sophia Andreyna Tolstoya, presumably a relative of the author, but not a daughter (her father would have been named Andrei).



    Extremely interesting. As a wealthy member of the nobility, Count Tolstoy could afford to have a book published in Geneva.

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