Friday, March 18, 2016

Adventures in translation

I've started translating and making English subtitles for a new project: the 1973 French TV adaptation of Flaubert's "Education Sentimentale".

This is the only clip of it I've found so far on YouTube. I was interested in it because it has a Georges Delerue score. I actually like this novel better than "Madame Bovary". I like the contrast between the inadequate characters and the historical backdrop against which they're ineffectually moving. This period of French and European history, the revolution(s) of 1848, is not one that I know much about. We always suppose that in a revolution, EVERYONE is fully involved with the great issues, but in this novel the main characters sort of get momentarily involved, then just drift off to some personal matter, only to brush up against the big historical events a little later. It's almost funny the way their rather shallow lives can go on uninterrupted in large part.

I expect Flaubert must have known from personal experience how big events can sort of jog along with commonplace things like eating, buying clothes, going to the theater, etc. I read an English translation of the novel before starting the subtitles. I have to say, the TV series actually brings out the humor in the novel quite well. There's a part in Frederick's short, dumb political career where he goes to address one of the radical clubs in Paris. The whole scene dissolves into a ludicrous parade of nuts yelling about religion, Marxism, art, money and finishing up with a long address in Portuguese that nobody can understand.

Anyway, just by chance Dean drew my attention to a particularly bad example of Google translate.

Justin Trudeau made his grand entrance on the international stage last week when he visited the White House. As usual, he had to give part of his address in French. For some reason, ABC News wasn't prepared for this, and they resorted to some awful robo-translator to subtitle his speech.

Buzzfeed dissected the speech, and the translation, in hilarious detail:

"President Obama I’d love the log trucks”

Please give them to him, Obama.

I'm not surprised Obama's turning grey in this picture.

Big national broadcaster like ABC: hire a translator. He won't cost much, and he'll do a professional job.


Blogger Tina said...

HAHAHAHAHA!!!! I have great tears running down my face... "that dictated sitcom" indeed!!!

9:50 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

And how did Brazil work itself in there, I'd like to know?

9:54 pm  

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