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Thread: Differences in translations

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    Differences in translations

    I just quoted the english text of Les Miserables somwhere and noticed a dfifference to my german edition. In Volume IV, Book 14, chapter VI Eponine says: "But perhaps you will be angry with me for it when we meet again presently?" In german she adds "man sieht sich doch wieder, nicht wahr?" (approx. : "We ARE going to meet again, aren't we?" meaning it in general not only she and Marius) which comes near to a religious statement, a confession of faith. I wonder how this may be in the french original or in other translations. Any ideas?

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    You are right. The French says: "Mais vous m'en voudriez peut-tre quand nous allons nous revoir tout l'heure. On se revoit, n'est-ce pas?"

    'But you would maybe be angy with me when we will see each other again before long. We will see one another again, won't we?'

    You are right. Although it translates better in German than in English, it still works. Leaving it out... tssssss

    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

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    I also struggled with an english translation for it is difficult to convey the impersonal connotation of the french "on" and german "man". In german I read it as a sort of conviction there is an after-life. Translated "WE will see each other again (capitals mine on purpose ;-) ) it may also be understood as just an outburst of her love for Marius. I wonder what the exact meaning of "presently" is in the english text. Do you know?

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    That is why I translated it 'we will see ONE ANOTHER before long, won't we?'.

    Whereas there is nothing to translate the French 'on' or German 'man' by (apart from 'one', but that sounds pompous and is only for singulr puroses), there are two possibilities for a 'reflexive pronoun' of 'we': 'each other' and 'one another'. 'Each other' is only used for two people (so a statement of love possibly from Eponine), but 'one another' is only used for groups of more than two people. That is why I took 'one another' as it evokes that the 'we' in the sentence before does not refer to Eponine and Marius alone, but to all there, or to all on the world even. 'Each other' would limit the 'we' she is speaking of to two people, i.e. she and Marius, and that would not be the French 'on'.

    'Tout l'heure' is the French 'presently' or like I put it 'before long'. 'A tout l'heure' in French can refer to more than presenty though. It can refer to a situation where two people are saying goodbye at 5 o'clock after work, but knowing that they will see each other in the evening again for a film at about 8, they say ' tout l'heure' (see you later). Although there is still a considerable long time between now and then. However, it can also be used in a situation where colleagues are having cigarette and one leaves to go to his desk and the others will sill stay a while. Hopefully, the period will not be three hours... 'I will see you presently' is rather in a meeting, when the director has to receive someone, but he is called away and hopes to tke a short time. He hopefuly will not consider taking 3 hours. It is not clear from the text whether Eponine assumes that Marius was going to die there and then, which would account for 'presently', or whether she hopes to see him again when he finally dies. 'Presently' is very shortly, 'before long' can be a little longer... But the state of mind of Eponine is maybe more of imortance. Although, Hugo probably considered that in eternity, the notion time is not of value anyway. So, in fact, 'soon' (also a meaning of the expression) can be everything from in five minutes until 20 years or more...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

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