A New Year's card from Europe

Dec 28th, 2015, 11:33 AM
  #1  
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A New Year's card from Europe

Just received from some friends:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/23401943914/

posted on the Europe forum because it probably has more Francophones than the Lounge.
Michael is online now  
Dec 28th, 2015, 04:44 PM
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Tiny purple type on dark background very hard to read - and I couldn't make it any larger.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 28th, 2015, 07:55 PM
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Just click once on the picture.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 05:18 AM
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Nice. I've got to get myself to the Driehaus Museum!
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Dec 29th, 2015, 05:22 AM
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Is it a secret? Why doesn't someone who reads French translate it for the vast majority of people who don't or would just be guessing?

Or would we find out that nobody here actually is fluent in French, they've just been blowing hot air about it?
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Dec 29th, 2015, 08:18 AM
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I'm fluent in French, but any translation I would provide would destroy the poetic tone. You could always try Google translate.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 08:43 AM
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You don't think Google translate would destroy the poetic tone?

If you're fluent, you are bound to do better than Google, which is hardly.

Everybody here would settle for the less-than-poetic, and you can indicate on your own in prose -- as an aside afterwards -- which phrases are hard to render in English because of their poetic resonance in French.

Because you've posted the text as photograph, Google won't translate it as text, and when I first looked at your link, I tried to copy the Hugo quote so I could paste it into Google translate, but I couldn't. Then I went to Google and tried a few searches using key unique words in the quote, translating them myself into English (I recognize some), plus the words "Victor Hugo." No luck getting a pre-existing translation. Finally, I tried googling the first lines in French, hoping to find the entire paragraph online in French so I could copy it to Google translate, and couldn't.

Then I thought:

Why are these people who are posting and commenting on it translating it as a courtesy if they are putting it on a public message board? It's like whispering in class.

I'm sticking to my theory that the "fluent" French isn't really fluent, and people are afraid of exposing that.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 08:45 AM
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It is true certain language isn't as literary when translated, that's true for novels and poetry. I always thought Hugo was a bit gloomy/creepy, so I personally wouldn't send that for NY, it's rather depressing. It's not really poetry, it's his memoires, as I recall. I think some online translator will do it and you'll get the gist of it. I suppose it is rather pertinent to France due to the attacks, that's the feeling.

It starts out -- you are worried, troubled, scared, feeling your way along. You feel that you are in the night. You see nothing before you and you don't even know, alas, of which nature is the night..... you ask if the world is without sun. Terrible question. Everyone asks it but no one answers.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 08:47 AM
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Sorry for the typo: I meant to type: Why aren't these people -- meaning you -- doing the translating?

Why am I looking for a translation as a courtesy to the forum so people have a clue? The people who know French should be doing this.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 08:51 AM
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MERCI BEAUCOUP CHRISTINA.

That is certainly poetic enough to let me know that in French there would be resonances your quick translation cannot offer, but merely having the serious content, and knowing the context of the recent events in Paris, makes me understand why someone would send that as an end of year Christmas card rather than Frosty the Snowman. I think it very touching that they shared their feelings through one of the iconic figures of Parisian culture.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 09:29 AM
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With all due respect to Christina and with no intended criticism, when in graduate school I learned that all too often traduttore = traditore.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 10:55 AM
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At least she bothered!

Seriously! I can barely believe your response. If you think there is some betrayal of the meaning or spirit or whatever it might be, point out exactly what it is instead of posting such a ungracious remark. It now really makes me think yuo are hiding behind bluster about your French.

I doubt hardly anybody would have posted on Fodor's something purely in another language without making some apologies for those unable to understand it, and saying -- if true -- that unfortunately there was no way to adequately render the quote in English, but you did want to share it with those posters who are French speakers.

But to take three passes and not even make any "by your leave", and then demean the effort of the person who was helpful -- I'm shaking my head.

Was the point of posting this to say: Look, I get postcards from France?

I had thought it was try to let people understand the feelings of people in Paris at this moment. Even in the original, I feel certain Hugo's words are not adequate to this moment. I'm sure whatever your French skills are they are adequate to Hugo.

Flaubert was the better writer, poet and all around thinker. I

"La parole humaine est comme un chaudron fêlé où nous puisons rythmes bruts pour les ours à danser, tandis que nous aspirons à faire de la musique qui va faire fondre les étoiles."

What matters is not the nit-picky fidelity of the translation, but transmitting the communication of a distressed person, who seized upon the quote from Hugo as his or her cir de couer to the world. Christina did them the honor of giving them the widest possible audience on this travel forum.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 11:00 AM
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For those reading the Fodor's Europe forum who don't read French, those more confident than Michael most often translate what Flaubert wrote as:

"“Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.”

(and Flaubert and Hugo have been translated to international acclaim many many times into many many languages, and while we all wish we could read everything in the original and understand no translation is the author's true art, there is much reason to be grateful to the translators who forge ahead and give us Hugo and Flaubert and all the rest, not to call them traitors)
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Dec 29th, 2015, 01:14 PM
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not to call them traitors

you disregarded "all too often".
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Dec 29th, 2015, 01:59 PM
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There are plenty of fluent French speakers on Fodors. Apparently SL hasn't met any of them, but one wonders if SL has ever met anyone on Fodors or knows biff-all about any of them. There are francophone posters on Fodors who have met regularly in person over many years in many geographic venues. There are also a fair number of polyglots.

It's not incumbent upon anyone to translate for anyone, here or anywhere else on the internet, especially if a very small quotation is followed by beautiful photographs that anyone can enjoy. Not to mention that loads of people encounter all manner of foreign languages on the internet every day and manage not to make an issue out of it.

What an incredibly petty post. Why would anyone in their right mind speculate about people "blowing hot air" about their language abilities? But no surprise there, as it comes from the Hot Air Queen of the Europe Board.
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Dec 29th, 2015, 08:48 PM
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Sandra, perhaps you would have gotten a translation much sooner if you phrased your request with even a modicum of manners, instead of your more usual arrogance and hostility. Have you ever considered dialing back even a little on the compulsion to lecture and "talk down" (to use your own words) to other Fodorites?
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Dec 29th, 2015, 10:28 PM
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Gosh what a depressing quotation.
menachem is online now  
Dec 29th, 2015, 11:44 PM
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Hmmm, I opened it, realised that it was beyond my schoolgirl French and moved on.

I could have asked my husband who speaks fluent French but he was busy so I didn't bother him.

Seriously, Sandra, there is no need to such a biartch such a lot of the time!
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Dec 30th, 2015, 04:30 AM
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good to know that is such a thing as New Year card.
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Dec 30th, 2015, 05:47 AM
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Yes, depressing but not unapt to the times. Note, Hugo was writing just as the "year of revolutions" was gathering speed.
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