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Calculus Translation

#1 · Posted: 12 Mar 2019 20:59

Can anybody tell me...

It always seemed like the translation of Calculus into English was an actual translation, and therefore everything that I'm guessing that was funny about this character was completely lost in the translation. From memory it always seemed that he was actually quite funny in Tintin and the Picaros, and I'm guessing that some free reign was given to the translator to keep the intention of his mishearing funny. Am I correct?
Also, my child is six years old and we've just started reading them together. My books are at least 30 years old. Is it the case that within this time the books have been changed to show a better and more funny translation, or do they still show the actual translation, which makes his character only annoying and not at all funny?

Many thanks.
#2 · Posted: 14 Mar 2019 00:42 · Edited by: snowybella

Am I correct?

In Picaros, I think that he is the same as in the original (though mct16 can help me on this, because I don't have it in French), and yes, the translators did try keeping his semi-deafness funny.

Is it the case that within this time the books have been changed to show a better and more funny translation, or do they still show the actual translation, which makes his character only annoying and not at all funny?

No, the translation hasn't changed at all - it is still Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper(?) and Michael Turner. Only the digital editions have a new translation, by Michael Farr.

Hope this helps!

(PS - Cuthbert Calculus's original name is Tryphon Tournesol, which roughly means "Tryphon (I think this is a French name?) Sunflower/Litmus Paper")
#3 · Posted: 14 Mar 2019 01:18 · Edited by: Balthazar
Hi Bunglefuzz

Welcome to the forums!

I'm not sure from your post if you grew up with the French originals and are finding that Calculus's humour value in the English books compares unfavourably with them, or if it's just that you've always sensed that Calculus ought to be funnier for you and are wondering if the translation's to blame.

In any case, from what I've read, the sort of free rein you're guessing the English translators might have had with Picaros - ie: to use phrasing that works and sounds funny/effective in English rather than slavishly following a word-for-word translation from the original French - is actually something they very much practiced as policy (with Hergé's approval) from the start of their translation work on the series and throughout it. With Calculus in particular, I think they prioritised being faithful to the general joke of his mishearings rhyming with what was actually being said to him, rather than translating the French words directly (which wouldn't rhyme in translation, of course) so if anything, Calculus's dialogue may have needed an even freer translation than that of other characters. Maybe it's actually this factor - the necessary contrivance of finding rhyming phrases that might be a stretch from the context of the scene - that's making the Calculus humour in the English books seem a bit forced for you?

Re Picaros, people do often seem to find it has a different feel and style from the other earlier books, so maybe there's just something about Calculus's dialogue in that book (something being carried over from Hergé's later-life writing style) that happens to appeal to your sense of humour more, rather than it being anything the translators were doing differently. Just a thought, though; not trying to contradict your own perceptions!

Re your query about updated translations, I think the English translations in the books (now published by Egmont) have actually been left pretty much unchanged from when they were made. The place where you will find new English translations (by Michael Farr) is in the digital editions being brought out by Moulinsart. But I believe the intention with these has been to go a bit closer to Hergé's French originals rather than freer.

Hope that's of some help!

PS: Ah I see that Snowybella has got in with a useful reply too while I was typing mine, so apologies for any duplication!

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