Two little Boston Terrier girls bring their Momo & Mr.Momo to Paris for a long stay. These are the tales of their very fine adventures.


Literal Translations Mon Dieu - Including These Croissants!

One never stops to think about the amount of literal translating we do everyday. From our very own personal perspectives to our various cultural perspectives, we translate all day long. Ennui. It can get you into really deep merde de chien.

For example, why in the world would you voluntarily pay the identical numeric amount for an item in either country, France or America? If one was smart they would pick up as much of those same numerically-priced items while in America because our Thank-You-George-Bush-Dollar (TYGBD) is so friggin weak against the Euro.

But if you had half a brain, then you would not buy those identically-numerically priced items in France because your pretty colored Euro is costing you big time if your bank account is in America.

What is Momo talking about? In France, Bon Marche sells Origins products and guess what? They are priced exactly the same as they are in America. Even the sticker looks the same which was strangely comforting to Momo after getting whopped on the head with merde d'oiseau. That is, until I got my package back to the little itty bitty apartment and realized that I paid a surcharge of at least $1.35 cents on each dollar the item cost when I paid in Euros. Oops. Too bad I hadn't thought that one through before leaving for France and brought another suitcase full of the stupid stuff you need when on extended travel.

Oh wait. I remember why not. We would have been charged for an extra suitcase by the airline, and guess what again? En effet! The same price whether you are in Paris, or America. Just your airline trying to be fair and perhaps streamline their convoluted data system. And just in case you thought that was odd, how about the fact that L&P's carry fare was identical when we paid for it in American and then again in Paris. But even when we brought this fact to their attention that it was not really the same price because of the TYGBD, they just shrugged. In Paris, of course. Shrugging practice is mandatory starting in preschool in France. In America they just give you the "stare" which is also compulsory in school beginning in adolescence. They say it is perfected by age 12. I also hear that the "shrug" is aged like fine wine and is perfected when the French are adults. Those who excell in "shrug" work in the service industry.

How about food? Really, how about some food? Momo is hungry. I think I will take my Williams Sonoma mail order, frozen, ready for the oven, made by a French pastry chef, costs more than an airline ticket to France, croissants out of the oven now. These are my last best hope for true literal translation of all good things croissant.

Mon dieu! Not good. They are enormous and a bit squishy in the wrong way as you can see in the photo. A true French croissant is small, somewhat tidy, and never too greasy. And never never too sweet. Here we are with another literal translation gone bad. A French pastry chef makes "French" croissants for largely an American audience who expects them to taste greasy, sweet, and be huge just in case their next meal is 45 hours away. Sigh. Chuck Williams, can you hear me? Merde. That should be literal enough. This too: non bon. Non.

Can someone from France send me a pain au chocolat? SVP? Seriously!

While we are on literal translations, let us review why L&P were constantly referred to as Bulldog Francais. Perhaps because literally there are few Boston Terriers in France? Or is it that a close approximation is sufficient? Hum. A theme is now humming through my head. Oddly, it is called the literal translation of the song Literally........

Moving on. We cannot have a chat about literal translation without talking about language. If you translate the French sentence literally without moving it about to make it grammatically correct in English you have a comedy. Like Momo's new moniker: Madam Feet. Or consider some of the Google searches to get to this blog. "Madam feet" is one of my new favorites. I also enjoy "dog senile" and "dog to dog conversation" which Momo knows something about. But you know that these are Google's literal translations of someone else's language searches. Just like when Alta Vista Babel Fish translation tool gives a translation of let's say, damn in English to French. It gives you the translation for a dam, like Hoover Dam. Very funny. So perhaps that is why my encounter with the shoe saleswoman in Paris was so memorable, not for the shoes, but for the conversation. I bet that is how she came up with "shoes done, or shoes exhausted". Still, it did make my day.

But then I learned a new lesson. The literal translation goes both ways in hilarity. A French friend sent an e-vite to a party and I replied with a translation (again, thank you Babel Fish!) from English to French. And apparently it was literal, because while I thought I sent a heartfelt acceptance note in French, apparently I sent a comical reply worthy of a Jon Stewart-Daily Show laugh. A great big belly laugh. Needless to say, I never did that again.

So my literal translation lesson is learned. I take literal- anythings with a big soft sponge. Oops, with grain de sel, which we all know is de poisson. Ok, ok. Done. Fait. Fini.

Luckily, L&P and all those who Woof (ha ha) can literally translate. They give literal a big 8 cause we know that all Woofs are individual. Momo rates literal translation a big fat zéro with an accent on the e which is now in English, a long a and not at all literal.

Seriously. Got fromage blanc covered. But I really need a real chocolate croissant!

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