1) Nic Dafis of Morfablog alerted me to the BBC radio drama based on David Jones’s In Parenthesis (which I discussed here, here, and here); it’s an hour and a half long, and you can listen to it by following the link on this page. It’s only online for a week from last Sunday, so I guess through this coming weekend; sorry about the delay, but at least it’s still there. It’s very well done, with lovely Welsh accents and restrained use of WWI sound effects; it was worth it for me just to learn that reveille is pronounced ruh-VALLEY Over There. (I followed along in my copy of the book, and noted some odd changes; “night woods” for “night weeds” is presumably just a misreading, but why did they change the song “Casey Jones” to “Tipperary” and “bull-shit” to “muck”??)

2) That great NYC institution Film Forum is currently showing my favorite movie of all time, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, and tomorrow will begin a two-week run of perhaps my favorite Godard movie, Two or Three Things I Know About Her, about which I wrote here. (The title in French is 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle, which in idiomatic translation should be ‘one or two things I know about her,’ but the clunky literal version has become firmly embedded.) It’s a rare chance to see these great movies (especially the Godard, for which I thought there were no longer any screenable prints); don’t miss ’em if you can.


  1. michael farris says

    Two or three things… along with La Chinoise are the only Godard movies I really like (both in my top 20).
    As for the title of the first, I assume (politely assuming full competence of the translator(s)) they didn’t want to use the title “One or two…” and then have the audience see “2 ou 3…”.
    Maybe “A few things..” “A couple of things…”
    As for the second, it seems that like some opera titles (La Traviata, Cosi Fan Tutte) they never even try to translate it into English. The Chinese Girl sounds wrong, the Chinawoman even worse. Any suggestions?
    My preference might be to change it altogether to something like Chinese summer or Chinese vacation.
    Or, considering the movie of a few years ago, The Chinese apartment.

  2. It’s not clear how to translate Così fan tutte anyway, since a lot of the meaning is concentrated in the feminine plural ending, and the fact that in such constructions the masculine is used unless all the referents are feminine. “That’s what all women do” is overly explicit, not to say lurid.

  3. To me, “They all do it” has enough of a misogynist overtone that the gender is fairly unambiguous, but it’s also more blunt than the original. Maybe “That’s what they do”?

  4. Or “That’s what they all do,” which has the advantage of preserving the original rhythm.

  5. Here in Canada a music student I had in a linguistics class told me that the opera is known (to her and her peers at any rate) in English as “Women are like that”, which likewise preserves the original rhythm without sounding more misogynistic than the original. In French the title is commonly translated as “Toutes pareilles”, which to me sounds much more misogynistic than the original.

  6. Y, Hat: I don’t think you’d think so if you didn’t already know the context. In “The Notorious Miss Anstruther”, an 1891 story by E.W. Hornung (the inventor of Raffles the thief and Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law), “That’s what they all do” is about the men who constantly propose to the heroine and their habit of writing “idiotic farewell letters”.

    WP says that the commonest translation is “All women are like that”.

  7. Well, you don’t exactly know what it is that they all fan if you don’t know the context, either.

    “All women are like that” scans really clunky. I don’t like it.

  8. I don’t either.

  9. David Marjanović says

    Così fan tutte

    is never translated into German, BTW – most likely because German doesn’t distinguish genders in the plural. Another factor, though, may be the idea that if Mozart had wanted it in German, he’d have written it in German, as he did with Die Zauberflöte

  10. But DM, Così is an Italian opera and Zauberflöte is a German singspiel.

  11. I think I’ve usually seen it performed using a translation of the subtitle (“School for Lovers”) for the English title.

  12. Huh, I’ve never even heard of the “School for Lovers” title — it’s always been the Italian title in my experience. Which, to be sure, isn’t recent.

  13. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Heh, I’ve know the Italian title since long before I had any idea of plural genders in that language, so I just guessed tutte as ‘everybody’ and left it at that. (I may even have heard così fan tutti, in fact or in my imagination).

    One of the biggest revelations (to me, as a Dane) from learning Spanish and a bit of Italian is that it is possible to speak without reduced vowels.

  14. One of the biggest revelations (to me, as a Dane) from learning Spanish and a bit of Italian is that it is possible to speak without reduced vowels.

    Millions of young Americans greet this fact with incredulity at the start of every school year.

  15. John Cowan says

    One of the biggest revelations (to me, as a Dane) from learning Spanish and a bit of Italian is that it is possible to speak without reduced vowels.

    Hmm. In what circumstances did you learn that it’s possible to speak without reduced consonants?

  16. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @JC, trick question time, eh? What is a reduced consonant? German as l learned it doesn’t have much lenition of consonants relative to spelling (I think, I don’t do much with it these days), except for final /r/, so some words with cognates in Danish may have been surprises. But that was in 7th grade, so I don’t remember.

  17. John Cowan says

    I meant “by comparison with Danish”, which is full of reduced consonants.

  18. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    I’m not sure that a proper synchronic phonemic analysis of Danish would turn up many consonantal allophones. The vowels can vary all over depending on stress and stuff, though. But I’m not a phonemicist, I just speak the thing. (Diachronically, a lot of lenition and stuff has happened, but I don’t think it serves any purpose to operate with unreduced underlying consonantal phonemes for current Standard Danish).

    But as I said, German has lots of words whose spelling is close to Danish, but where the current languages have very different pronunciations.

  19. “Beer cans? What do you mean, ‘beer cans’? Oh, those? Yeah, those used to be cans, and sure, they used to have beer in them, but now they’re all smushed and I prefer to consider them a floor covering.”

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