Monday, February 25, 2008

Found on the Web

This and this.

Nevertheless, while I will withhold judgment on these efforts at translation, this is my métier, after all, so I suppose I owe the world a bit of philosophical rumination on the translation of insults. The essence of the matter is of course to capture the right linguistic register, the precise tone of the invective. The literal meaning of the words is of no moment (and, indeed, one of the French words involved--a ubiquitous three-letter gem--is so "lexicalized" that its literal meaning is forgotten by the French commentator, who nevertheless tangles himself up in unrelated anatomical references). To be sure, it is hard to attach any precise register to the ubiquitous "pauvr' con," which has been in the public domain of quasi-polite company at least since the famous tube of Serge Gainsbourg. Hence its sting is rather drawn these days, I should say.

As for "casse-toi": well, English has pretty much seen the last of "scram." "F--- off" is too strong, "bugger off" too English for American ears, "buzz off" slightly passé. "Get lost" might do it, but I might be showing my age; I don't think my children would accept that translation. "Screw off," perhaps. "Sod off," apparently suggested by Collins' Dictionary, won't do at all in the U.S. A Tony Sopranoish "getouddaheah" would certainly be inappropriate. "Book it" has never seemed natural to me, though a complete dictionary would have to include it.

Definitely a tough one. "Buzz off, asshole" or "Get lost, jerk" probably bracket the target, though neither seems quite satisfactory. Clearly this is a matter that requires further contemplation. I'm sure that readers will have suggestions.


Anonymous said...

My suggestion is, "screw you, asshole". I don't see the "casse-toi" as being a literal invective for him to "go" anyplace, but rather a simple filler for the "espece de con". Buzz off certainly sounds a bit old-fashioned.


Anonymous said...

may i suggest: "up yours," at least for "casse-toi"

Anonymous said...

a more accurate translation would be: "piss off, asshole"

didn't you notice that he says bonsoir to the people in the video, when it is actually 9:30 am

add the facial expression of his face, and the vacant smile, something is definitively wrong with the man

gregory brown said...

My vote is for "get outta here, you lousy jerk." I think the "get outta here" picks up both the tone and imperative for action of "casse-toi" and "lousy" although possibly dated seems to me the right pitch for this use of "pauvre." "con" is probably untranslatable, since its both calumnious and sufficiently polite as not to be vulgar. (Sorry to make this my first posting in a few weeks, but I happened to have had this conversation last night so I was ready for it.)

francis biere said...

"Beat it, loser." This translation is contemporary and also contains familiar antecedents that stretch back for decades. The bland expression on Sarko's face as he uttered the remark is compatible with the register of "Beat it, loser," which conveys his blasé indifference.

Anonymous said...

La vidéo de Nicolas Sarkozy, tournée au salon de l’agriculture samedi, alors qu’il se fait insulter par un visiteur, puis insulte ce badaud, a fait le tour du monde, relayée par des médias internationaux. Problème: comment traduire le «Casse-toi, pauvre con», lancé par le Président? Problème numéro deux: comment (re)traduire en français dans cet article les versions espagnoles, anglaises et allemandes de la verve du chef de l'Etat? Revue d'insultes.

- Sur le site Clarin (Argentine), la version sophistiquée: «Dégage, pauvre demeuré» («Rajá, pobre pelotudo»)

- Sur le site d’El Pais (Espagne): «Tire-toi de là, pauvre couillon!» («¡Pírate, pobre gilipollas!»)

- Sur le site de la BBC (Royaume-Uni), la classe toute britannique: «Va-t’en, espèce d’imbécile d’heureux» («Get lost then you bloody idiot, just get lost!»)

- Sur le site du New York Times (Etats-Unis), qui reprend la dépêche signée Associated Press: «Alors barre-toi, abruti fini» («Then get out of here, you total jerk»)

- Sur le site de «Times» (Royaume-Uni), une version édulcorée: «Va te faire bip, triple buse» («P*** off, stupid sod»)

- Sur le site de «Die Welt» (Allemagne): «Barre toi, tête de con» («Hau ab, du Dummkopf»)

Anonymous said...

"Take off, hoser!"

What? Too Canadian?

mushr00m said...

Get outta the way, then, ya schmuck!

Anonymous said...

Putting "pauv" in front of "con" reinforces the insult (like "sale" does, but conveying contempt rather than disgust.) So "pauv'con" is way worse than "jerk" (which would be appropriate indeed for "con" alone.)
"casse-toi" is definitively more violent than "dégage", it's very direct.
The combination is extremely vulgar, the kind of language you'd hear in a brawl.
I'd go with "screw you, loser".

Anonymous said...

Tradere trahere. Traduire, c'est déjà trahir, disaient les Romains. Comment les médias anglophones ont-il transcrit le désormais fameux « Casse-toi, pauvre con » de notre chef de l’Etat ? « Fuck you, prick » (littéralement : « Je désire avoir des relations sexuelles par voie anale avec toi, espèce de pénis »), comme on peut le trouver sur certains blogs ? Trop simple.
Le mieux serait « sod off, bloody idiot » (va-t-en, idiot sanglant), si l’on en croit le Robert & Collins, cité par un internaute. Sod off, précise l’Urban Slang Dictionnary, est la version britannique de l’insulte proférée plus haut. L’agence internationale Associated Press colle au verbe présidentiel : «get out of here, you total jerk» (sors d’ici, benêt complet). Sa concurrente Reuters a préféré « get lost, dumb ass » (va-t-en, âne attardé — quoique « ass » soit plus souvent traduit par « cul »).

Plus britannique que jamais, la BBC a choisi « get lost then you bloody idiot, just get lost! ». Elle précise néanmoins qu’il s’agit d’une « mild english translation », un traduction adoucie. Le tout aussi sérieux Times de Londres donne le choix au lecteur avec « p*** off, stupid sod » (va uriner ailleurs, stupide sodomite) et « get lost, silly b***** » (chienne — entendez prostituée — idiote). The Independent tente le gallicisme avec « get lost, you poor cretin » (pauvre crétin).

Quant au tabloïd The Sun, il a choisi de ne pas relever.

Anonymous said...

If you (readers of Art's blog) speak French, I recommend you watch tonight's 'C dans l'air', free online on the website.
They discuss "monarchie élective", "vigilance" petition, the "screw you asshole", and the attempt at circumventing the constitution.

Scott Guye said...

I don't expect I can add much incredibly new, but two things.

When I see 'pauvre con' type insults, I see the 'pauvre' as a prefix almost sympathethic - like that poor guy, or as the brits are saying, 'that silly sod'.

Regarding 'casser' nothing comes to my mind faster than the cinematic gem of 'Brice de Nice' aka 'le roi de casse'.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, "piss off" and "get lost" are the best translations for "casse-toi". And I do think that "pauvre con" is meant to show contempt, and needs a word that clearly show inferiority. I'm not sure "loser" quite fits, though, but I might be tempted to simply add "you" before "asshole".
So I'd suggest "Piss off, you asshole".
Of course, translating to a foreign language is never quite easy, but this is my opinion.
And I don't think "get lost" is old, but it's hard to know when you're not a native speaker.

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