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Tintin in Tibet: Tintin finding the teddy bear

#1 · Posted: 27 Apr 2023 11:25
I read Tintin in Tibet in the Dutch translation forty years ago and I read it again yesterday.
One thing has kept on puzzling me: when Tintin, Haddock and Tharkey discover the airplane, Tintin finds a teddy bear with one leg missing. He then mentions to Haddock: 'look what I found here. Strange.' upon which Haddock responds: 'couldn't you have found something else?'.

What is so strange about finding a teddy bear with a leg missing?

After all, one of the 14 passengers could easily have brought a teddy bear with him and due to the crash, a leg could have been torn off easily. Yesterday I came along it again and still, I have no clue what the meaning behind this is.
#2 · Posted: 27 Apr 2023 22:35
I'm not at all familiar with the Dutch translation, but it doesn't match the French or English versions...

In the French book, Tintin says, "Dites, voyez ce que je viens de trouver ...Navrant...", which translates as "Say, see what I just found... Heartbreaking..."

Haddock's response is pretty much as you say.

The English album keeps the element of pathos, and turns it up a notch, by referring to the object of their search, as Tintin says: "It could have been been Chang's... a present for his cousins..."

I don't know who translated the Dutch, or when the translations were made, but is it possible that they were using some form of idiom or expression that might have been current at the time, but it's gone out of fashion...?

Update: Having thought about it a little more, my best guess is that the translators in each case wished to dilute any concerns that children might have died in the crash - which might have been thought to add another layer of distress to an already fraught narrative.

So in the Dutch version they just have Tintin surprised by the bear being there, and in the English they suggest that the bear was on its way to a child, rather than already in the posession of one. If this latter idea is true, then perhaps rather than amping up the pathos, MT&LL-C were trying to make the scene slightly less emotional, Haddock's and Tintin's emotion being mostly directed towards Chang, rather than towards Chang and a dead child... Haddock might be said to be teary at the thought of Chang's family waiting for him and his never turning up, but it becomes an empathetic moment for the Captain, rather than out-and-out grief at a child dying in the crash.
#3 · Posted: 29 Apr 2023 01:27
Again, Jock123, thanks for your thorough reply!

The album I read yesterday was the same as I read when I was five years old, I have always kept them! Maybe the translation is different today. I have once lost a Tintin album, Destination Moon, and bought it again. Later I found the first version again and the translations were different. The sentence Tintin utters when he finds the teddy bear can only be interpreted in one way. Obviously, the translation doesn't match the original French and that's what made it so puzzling for me for tens of years! Thanks for helping me out!

I don't envy Tintin's translators, as it must be very difficult to translate Haddock's famour exclamations. 'In ranunculusfat smothered werewolf!' is one in Dutch, for example. But I must say they ended up very well and it's a trully funny part of the Tintin comics!

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