This week's Book of the Week on Radio 4 is a political biography that deals with Mitterand. In it, I caught' the phrase 'the romanesque side of Mitterand's nature' (his tendency to fantasize); and my translator's ears pricked up. I though it was Sarkozy who had high arches... [Think about it.... Arches....] Mitterand wasn't anything to do with architectural history. I thought the book must have been a translation whose translator had misunderstood roman-esque – 'like a story (un roman)'. I started to listen more closely, meaning to note who the translator was.
But there was none. It was by Philip Short, former BBC Foreign Correspondent: Mitterrand: A Study in Ambiguity. Surely his mastery of French was unquestionable. I would have to reconsider my 'duff translation' diagnosis. But what I had forgotten was the credit at the end of the programme: '...abridged and produced for Jane Marshall Productions'. So there was a 'translator' of sorts; someone who takes an original text and rejigs it in a different format.
Hidden away about 20 seconds before 'romanesque', there was mention of Mitterand's brother. The first few words that followed that attribution were delivered in a 'Allo 'Allo accent that signalled 'These are the words of a Frenchman'. The cod accent had lapsed several seconds before the word romanesque. I checked in the full text:
It's not clear from the full text whether it was Mitterand frère or Short who was quoting Rousselet. But the radio abridgement suppressed the very existence of a third person or of a quote from a Frenchman.
But I must get back in the saddle – turning #WVGTbook into a hardcopy book. This will reduce its networked features, but makes it more useable in an unwired classroom (as many EFL classrooms are).
Update 2016.01.31.12:00 – Fixed a few typos and deleted footer (as I will do in other posts when I get 'a round tuit'. The latest info. is on my other blog.)
Update 2016.04.07.14:40 – Added footnote
* It's certainly not there now. And it only became Heffer's secondhand bookshop in the mid-'70s. When I bought my dictionary there, it was Bowes & Bowes's secondhand bookshop; it was subsequently engulfed by Heffer's.
I once heard this round (sung to the tune of Frère Jacques by undergraduates of a certain vintage [preceding mine]), that referred to past booksellers in Cambridge:
Heffer's Bookshop, Heffer's Bookshop,
Bowes & Bowes, Bowes & Bowes,
Galloway & Porter, Galloway & Porter,
Deighton Bell, Deighton Bell.
The last two of those had gone before I arrived, though I think one of them had a (slightly) extended life as Heffer's Art Books shop, or something like that. Being acquired by Heffer's seems to be an occupational hazard in Cambridge's world of bookshops.