· Posted: 29 Jun 2007 10:28 · Edited by: Balthazar
That's very interesting Mike. My school French is rusty (and was never very good anyway), but I think Lampion is saying something like, "Are you sure you don't want me to phone up the British Admiralty and get them to send you the Home Fleet?"
2 minutes later... My translation was OK. I've just gone and checked what the English translators do with Lampion/Wagg's phrase in the UK version of the Calculus Affair, and it's much the same, though they just put "Admiralty", rather than "British Admiralty".
Lampion's phrase in the original could be a jokey reference to Haddock's nationality, though I'd guess Lampion could just be picking the British Navy as a famous example of a major force to make his ironic joke, without it being a particular reference to Haddock's nationality. The British Navy was one of the dominant military forces of the19th and early 20th Century, and sending out a battleship was a well-known (almost clichéd) British Empire solution to any problem. Presumeably, Wagg saying, "are you sure you don't want me to send for the Belgian Navy" wouldn't have the same historical resonance. (No disrespect to the Belgian Navy intended.) In a similar way, a British person of this period might ironically say, "send for the Marines" if some minor crisis had occured at a village fete, or, "here come the US Cavalry" if some boy scouts were rushing in to sort it out. Neither phrase would imply there were Americans present or involved. These phrases would simply be ironic references to famous forces typically seen saving the day in Hollywood war films and westerns.
But I could be wrong and, as you suggest, Lampion could be making a specific jokey reference to Haddock being a British retired sailor.
As you'll see from my last post on this thread (a few months back) I'm one of those who was unconvinced that Hergé saw Haddock as being anything other than a Belgian of Belgian-French ancestory. However, that list of British-sounding Christian names that Hergé was considering for Haddock when writing Picaros that Harrock'n'roll posted has swayed my view a bit, and this Lampion quote you've just posted does sway the argument that way a bit more, even though it's not conclusive.
Maybe Hergé originally automatically thought of Haddock as Belgian, which would explain why he doesn't specify him as anything else in the early books (unlike specifically non-Belgian characters like Oliveira, Zloty, Gibbons, Muller etc who tend to have their nationalties spelt out), and why Hergé has Haddock's ancestor serving in the French navy and being given a mansion in the Belgian countryside, without any explanation of this. But in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, as Hergé became something of an Anglophile (feeling more at home in London than in Paris, he said), and saw his books becoming very succesful in Britain, maybe he decided that Haddock should be British, and started putting in hints that this was the case, such as having him drink whisky almost exclusively (rather than rum etc), such a Lampion's reference in The Calculus Affair, and such as the British-sounding christian name in Picaros.
However, if you're saying that the name Haddock would by itself have suggested to Belgian readers that he was British right from his first appearance, maybe I'm wrong, and maybe Hergé did always intend Haddock to be seen as British after all.