Wednesday, January 7, 2009

french oc

Whenever I waste time watching TV (which is frequently) I turn on French subtitles in order to make believe that what I'm doing is constructive.

Late the other night, while watching Project Runway through a bleary sleep-deprived haze, I thought I read "I don't give a sick dog" as translation for "I don't give a damn."

I later asked my Canadian friend -- I've learned that Francais 5.1 is Canadian French, which sometimes has weird slang, so I thought he might know. For example, in Canada the term for boyfriend or girlfriend is simply "blonde," which has a simplicity I adore -- "blonde" being shorthand for all things sexy. But my friend admitted that he was too geeky to actually know any slang. (Let alone slang for what's sexy.)

I returned Project Runway to the video store before I had a chance to double check the sick dog thing, but that experience had me alert to bizarre French translations. And can I just say that The OC on French is more entertaining than Sabado Gigante?

The first freakiness was when the Museum of Tolerance was translated as the Museum of Oceanic Arts. I mean, I get that French people won't know about the Tolerence Museum (although, c'mon, Holocaust studies, seriously). But to translate that as "oceanic arts"? Not sciences, mind you. Arts.

Other stuff just sounds funnier in French -- "let's go" becomes "it is imperative that we move." And "see you soon" doesn't transform as expected into "a bientot" but instead turns into "little goodbye." I know if my French were better I wouldn't be so amused by those phrases. Still, even limiting myself to the truly outrageous, there's a lot of stoned translator moments.

Like when the nerdy guy acts all okay that he's not invited someplace cool. In English, he just says, "Yeah, that's okay, yeah, I was busy anyway..." In French, he invents a whole storyline about how he has to go to the library. There's an entire parallel plot in French, far more rich in detail than Hollywood ever dreamed of.

Which is nice, because so far The OC consists of Ryan bumping into that girl (what's her name), stammering something platonic-erotic to her, and then -- just like in dream sequences -- realizes that Luke has been hovering in the background the whole time. I'm pretty sure that by the end of the series half the characters will be arrested for stalking.

I'm not saying I'm going to quit watching it, though. Il faut que ne me bouge pas.

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