Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lee Had Me Translate

Lee has some French FACEBOOK friends who don't speak English that he met through Farmville.

They've been good Farmville friends and occasionally he'll hit me up to translate something or give him something cute to say to them.

Today, his friend Valerie shared a videoclip with him that had a story that was told in French text.

He made me cry because I'm a total sentimental idiot sometimes, and this story (which unfolded very fast on the screen while world's smallest violin played an unabashedly soppy theme in the background) was totally meant to break your heart.

It's a tale about a little Quebecois boy who grew up in the latter 20th century. He talks about how he was fascinated with his Mother using the phone, and particularly fascinated when she would call information and the "genie in a bottle" would magically honor her request for information.

He goes on to tell how one day he was alone in the house and accidentally pounded his finger with a hammer. So he runs to the phone and dials O and asks "Renseignements" (Information) to tell him what to do. And the nice lady tells him to go get ice out of the freezer.

Pretty soon, he's calling and asking (the same woman? really?) for help on his math homework, how to spell a difficult word, etc. He has a friend.

One day his pet canary dies. He is inconsolable. So he calls his operator friend and she tells him "Don't you know singing doesn't only take place in this world. There is another world where all creatures sing."

Then the boy's family moves, relocates to another Canadian province, and he's not able to talk to his old friend.

Years later, he has a brief layover in Quebec and he calls Information, not expecting to hear his old friend. But it's actually she who takes his call. He recognizes her voice with joy.

He quotes her about the "singing of another world" and she is filled with joy to recognize who this is. (Obviously, his voice would have changed but hers probably not so much.) She tells him her name is Sally and he can ask for her anytime.

He then gets on his plane and leaves.

Not long thereafter, he's back in Quebec and calls Information again, gets a different voice and asks for Sally.

The other operator informs him that she is sorry to tell him that Sally is no longer with Information. She died three weeks ago. He had mentioned his name and the woman says, "Wait a minute--Sally left a message for you!"

So she reads the message to the man which tells him that she was grateful she meant so much to him when he was a child. And the note goes on to say...WAIT FOR IT...how much HE MEANT TO HER, because she had always wanted a child, but was not able to have one.

Lastly, the note reminds him to remember that there is singing in another world, and not just this one, raking the coals off his long-buried grief for his dead canary.


If that's a true story, I'll turn straight.

A real operator would tell the kid to fuck off after the second call. They hate humanity in no time working that job.

And it made me cry.

I think it was world's smallest violin playing behind the text.

Valerie is very religious.

In case you hadn't guessed by now.

Maybe she is a nun.

Nuns can have farms in Farmville.

I'm sure nuns love it, actually.

I should have Lee type to her, "Valerie, etes-vous une religieuse?" Wait. I guess I should drop out the indefinite article as you do with other professions in French. But wait. Is "nun" a profession? It seems different. A calling. But if you do the same as with other professions, which I'm thinking now must be correct, "Etes-vous religieuse?" how does the speaker know the difference between just asking, "Are you religious (adj)?" and "Are you a nun (noun)?" Because functionally to the ear it's the same sentence. I guess you use the alternate word for nun then. Because there is one.

But I'd tell Lee that it means "Hope you're having a great day."

Wait. That could really backfire.

If she's like not a nun.

Lee translates French very funnily. He just bases it on what English words the words sound like (false cognates).

He comes up with some beautiful sentences.

They sort of sound like Andre Breton wrote them.

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