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Castafiore Emerald: Did the jewel get taken to Japan?

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Tygerfort
Member
#1 · Posted: 30 Jun 2021 20:47
In the last few pages of the Castafiore Emerald (after the emerald has been found), I vaguely remember that Thompson and Thomson say that they are going to take the emerald to Japan. Is that true, or am I remembering wrong?
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 30 Jun 2021 21:42
Tygerfort:
I vaguely remember that Thompson and Thomson say that they are going to take the emerald to Japan

Well, yes, sort of.
Thompson says that they are taking the "mule to Japan", when (to be precise!) he means to say that they are (in fact) taking the "jewel to Milan".
So it was said, it just wasn't meant! :-)
tintiNZ
Member
#3 · Posted: 1 Jul 2021 05:43
That was another of Herge's brilliant Spoonerisms.

What went over our head as a kid, this is the comical part that keeps entertaining us as adults.
jock123
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 1 Jul 2021 09:56 · Edited by: jock123
tintiNZ:
That was another of Herge's brilliant Spoonerisms.

Just to take a moment to give credit where it's due, while Hergé no doubt had a joke here, this Spoonerism is undoubtedly the work of Michael Turner. But you are absolutely right - as far as can be told, the two men were absolutely on the same wave-length in terms of humour.
He tended to do the word-play, puns and what-not in the English translations, to the point where Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper knew that if she was working on the script, and came to something decidedly and deliberately tedious by Jolyon Wagg, a speech by the Arumbayas, or the Thom(p)sons mangling an explanation, she would just make a note saying "Michael" in the margin, and move on to the next bit, as she knew he would be able to come up with suitably comic dialogue.

I don't know what the gag was in the original French, as I don't appear to have a copy to hand.
mct16
Member
#5 · Posted: 1 Jul 2021 23:51
Michael Turner had the Thompson saying: "We're... taking the mule to Japan...er, making the gruel... faking the jewel".

In the original French it was: "Nous parlons pour Mitan...euh...nous martons pour Pilan".

The first bit translates as "We're speaking for Mitan" but I cannot figure out the second bit.

The real question of course is if the Thompsons actually managed to even leave Marlinspike with the emerald, given the way they argue as to which of them has it as they drive off!
Balthazar
Moderator
#6 · Posted: 2 Jul 2021 12:24 · Edited by: Balthazar
mct16:
In the original French it was: "Nous parlons pour Mitan...euh...nous martons pour Pilan".

The first bit translates as "We're speaking for Mitan" but I cannot figure out the second bit.

Thanks for providing the original French version, mct16, which is always interesting to compare. From a quick bit of online translating, "nous martons pour" translates as "we hammer for" which is as deliberately meaningless in the context of the scene as their previous mangled attempt, "we speak for". Obviously, what they're attempting to say is "Nous partons pour Milan."(We leave for Milan.)

It's neat the way Hergé is able to be so precise with the spoonerism variations, swapping the middle consonants of the verb and the place name in the first mangled attempt, and swapping the first letters in the second attempt. It helps that both parlons and martons are actual verbs in French, although Hergé does have to use non-existent place names (I think!) with Pilan and Mitan. Michael Turner's version is less precise with the letter swaps but keeps all of their attempts within actual words. It'd be interesting to see if in his new English translation for the e-book version, Michael Farr followed, in this instance, Michael Turner's tendency to prioritise natural sounding and properly funny English, or if he went for a more direct translation of Hergé's spoonerism constructions, ie: "We're lealing for Mivan ... erm ... we're meaving for Lilan."
I don't have the e-book versions, but I'm guessing Michael Farr will have aimed for something funnier than that!
Richard
UK Correspondent
#7 · Posted: 2 Jul 2021 16:07
Balthazar:
It'd be interesting to see if in his new English translation for the e-book version, Michael Farr followed, in this instance, Michael Turner's tendency to prioritise natural sounding and properly funny English, or if he went for a more direct translation of Hergé's spoonerism constructions, ie: "We're lealing for Mivan ... erm ... we're meaving for Lilan."

Extremely close, Balthazar! Farr's eBook version says: "And now we too are leaming for Mivan... Er... We're meaving for Lilan...".

Although that's much closer to Hergé's original text, I personally find Michael Turner's interpretation an improvement. In Hergé's original, and Farr, you get mangled words and nonsense. With Turner you get the former, plus – as you say – something genuinely funny as a bonus.
Balthazar
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 2 Jul 2021 18:27
Richard:
In Hergé's original, and Farr, you get mangled words and nonsense.

In Herge's original, the incorrect verbs that Thompson uses are at least real French words, so it's possible that these word substitutions are funnier in that language, the way that such malapropisms often can be. But I agree with you that, given a direct translation of the consonant swaps doesn't give us comedically wrong verbs in English, but merely nonsense words, Michael Turner's freer approach was a better way to go, and actually better preserves the spirit of the scene than the technically more faithful e-book translation.
mct16
Member
#9 · Posted: 2 Jul 2021 20:10
Balthazar:
From a quick bit of online translating, "nous martons pour" translates as "we hammer for"

Which dictionary did you use?
Balthazar
Moderator
#10 · Posted: 2 Jul 2021 21:32 · Edited by: Balthazar
mct16:
Which dictionary did you use?

I actually just typed "nous martons" into Google translate and it told me that meant "we hammer" in French.

However, when I've subsequently tried typing in martons on its own, just now, without the preceding nous, or if I simply look up martons or marton in an online French-to-English dictionary, I get nothing! But guessing from that result that martons must only make sense in that that particular present-tense nous grammatical context, I tried further searches and found that the infinitive form of the French verb "to hammer" is marteler, and also that a French noun for a hammer is marteau. Other French verbs and nouns for hammer seem to be available, so perhaps marteau and marteler only apply to a particular type of hammer and hammering. (Gavel and knocker are also given as definitions for marteau, I notice.)

I seem to recall from previous posts of yours in other threads that your French is much much better than my barely remembered and never good schoolboy level! That being the case, I'm wondering if these perhaps aren't the most common words for hammer and hammering in French, and that Hergé, needing a verb that rhymed with partons for the spoonerism joke to work, perhaps had to reach for a relatively obscure one!

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