Some French words seem to me to perfectly match their English counterparts. 'Oeuf' is just fine for 'egg'. "Vert" works for 'green'. 'Chat' practically is 'cat'. And how do you say 'appalling'? -- 'épouvantable'. Isn't that fantastic? When I was in Germany with a friend, we were flipping through the dictionary and collapsed into giggles over the word 'uberspannt', which means stressed-out, or 'overstrung'. Her German cousin later made us t-shirts with the word on them.
|Photo by Sebastia Giralt|
But sometimes the results are rather less felicitous. Angus is currently doing a speech on the Greek Gods (thank-you Percy Jackson books). He did a rough copy and then while he was at school I was looking up a few words so I could help him edit it that night. One of the words he'd left in English was Zeus's 'thunderbolt'. I looked it up. I looked it up again. I switched to a different dictionary. I did everything I could to avoid having to write that Zeus's symbol was an 'éclair'.
Photo by Paul and Hien Brown
Talk about losing something in the translation. I can't get this image of this hugely muscled shirtless dude with luxuriously white hair and a beard, standing on top of Mount Olympus, hurling chocolate-covered cream-filled pastries down on the targets of his displeasure.