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Trilingual Harry Potter Reread

Trilingual Harry Potter Reread: Book 1, Chapter 8: The Potions Master

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do another of these posts, but I haven’t forgotten about them, I promise! This is what happens when you spend a few weeks fighting off a nasty cold and then, even after you’re more or less better, you have to focus all your energy on the day job and on trying to get some writing done.

But now I’ve got a few cycles left over for Harry Potter. So let’s get back into Book 1, shall we? In this post, I’ll look at Chapter 8! Which means everybody’s favorite potions master who really wants to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, and who really has it in for our boy Harry. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Severus Snape.

Snape, Snape, Sev-er-us Snape

Snape, Snape, Sev-er-us Snape

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Trilingual Harry Potter Reread

Trilingual Harry Potter Reread: Book 1, Chapter 7: The Sorting Hat

I have been asked on Google+ when the next post of this series would be going up, and I take this as a nudge to go ahead and get this posted! To all those who have in fact been coming by to read these: thanks and I hope you’re enjoying them! I’ll try to make sure I do them more regularly moving forward.

So where’d we leave off? Harry, Ron, and Hermione have made it to Hogwarts, and they’ve come into the great hall to be Sorted into Houses along with the rest of the incoming first-year students. Which, of course, means that we get to see the Sorting Hat in action.

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Book Log

Book review: La Rivière des morts, by Esther Rochon

La Rivière des mortsLa Rivière des morts by Esther Rochon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It’s tough for me to review this novel properly. My French isn’t good enough yet to have truly understood the majority of what I read here–and it didn’t help either that certain aspects of Mme. Rochon’s style here made it difficult for me to follow the action.

One, I did at least figure out that the book’s divided into a section involving protagonist Laura Fraser as a young girl, and a section involving her as an older woman (post-menopausal? Again, my French isn’t that solid yet, so I wasn’t able to nail that down for sure). It baffled me that the book changed tenses between these two sections, from first person in the earlier part to third in the latter. That was a baffling decision, one beyond my meager French to properly understand; it may well have made much more sense to Quebecois SF/F readers, I don’t know.

Two, in both sections, there was a certain distinct detachment to the action. In the first part, Laura tells the reader a lot of her history, along the lines of “this happened to me” and “I felt such-and-such a way”, with very little of what was going on actually played out directly. The same held true in the second part, although at least there, there were a few more scenes of direct interaction between Laura and other characters, notably Valtar and Sirwala. This made it a lot harder for me to feel engaged by any of the characters.

Three, instead of getting much in the way of action and character dialogue played out directly, we get a lot of lengthy paragraphs of Laura being introspective about assorted things that trouble her as a girl (mostly “the French speakers think I’m weird because I have an English name, and the English speakers think I’m weird because I speak with a French accent, and I HATE ALL OF THEM and I’m going to go dream about being a spider now”), and later, assorted things that trouble her as an adult. Later, when she does actually have direct interaction with other characters (mostly Valtar), each paragraph of dialogue is likewise very long. On the one hand, I regret that my French was not up to the task of following much of this, because I’m certain I’d have engaged with Laura as a character much more if I could actually understand most of what the text was saying. On the other hand, even as an Anglophone reader who’s barely able to dip her toes into Quebecois SF/F so far, I kept feeling like the lengthy, expository nature of the dialogue was forced. I’d be really curious to know if it reads that way to Quebecois readers as well, or if this is just a matter of my being a beginner at French.

So far, the one other Quebecois SF/F novel I’ve successfully read was significantly different stylistically, and targeted for younger readers as well–so it was much easier for me to follow. This one, I’ll straight-up admit, was a hard slog. So for now I’m going to have to give it two stars. But I’ll want to try it again later, as my French improves, and see whether my reading experience is different.

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Trilingual Harry Potter Reread

Trilingual Harry Potter Reread: Book 1, Chapter 6: The Journey from Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters

Chapter 6 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is, for my money, where things finally start getting interesting. We’ve had a lot of exposition thrown at us in the first five chapters of this story, mostly courtesy of Hagrid, who gives Harry his intro to the world.

But in Chapter 6, when Harry is finally on his way to Hogwarts, we get introduced to Ron and Hermione. Accordingly, we get the very beginnings of the friendship that is the foundation of the entire series.

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Trilingual Harry Potter Reread

Trilingual Harry Potter Reread: Book 1, Chapter 5: Diagon Alley

Whenever people think of the Harry Potter universe, one of the first examples that pops into everybody’s head as a canonical demonstration of how everything works is Diagon Alley: where all the Hogwarts students have to go to buy the equipment they’ll need for the coming school year.

And, well, it’s a justifiable thing for everybody to think of, because holy crap Diagon Alley is neat. As Harry gets to see for the very first time, in Chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!

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Language and Star Wars geekery in the same post!

I finally did cave and buy A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in digital form. They’re the Special Editions–but the lure of being able to watch them both in French was too great to resist. And now that I’ve watched the first of the two, here are my immediate reactions!

First, and this may seem like stating the obvious but I’m going to say it anyway: French sounds different than English. What I actually mean by that in this case is that inflection patterns are noticeably different–an English speaker and a French speaker, when saying the same word, will put the stresses in different places.

An example of this was any line in which Ben was identified by his full name of “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. An English speaker says “Ken-OH-bee”. A French speaker, or at least the French speakers who did the dubs for this movie, says “Ken-oh-BEE”.

Also–and this was particularly easy to note given that every single line in this movie is emblazoned into my brain, enough that I kept mentally playing the English lines along with the French ones, which was rather distracting–the English dialogue is way more blatant in emotional expression. This had the rather lollertastic result of making Luke sound way less whiny in French than he does in English, for example. Han sounded rather less snide, too.

Second, it was intriguing to see where names were changed and where they weren’t. The two biggest ones I noted were that the name of the planet Alderaan was changed, and I’m pretty damned sure I also heard Han calling Chewie “Chiqo” whenever “Chewie” appears in the English dialogue.

A quick google suggests that apparently the French spelling for Chewie’s nickname is “Chico”. But I don’t know if that’s just because people actually saw it spelled in official translated material or if they were transcribing by ear out of the dub–the subtitles on the digital edition I have, at least when I checked in a couple of places, were ever so conveniently not actually showing Chewie’s name! Meanwhile, French Wikipedia page for Chewie has his full name listed there as “Chiquetabbac”–and from what little exposure I’ve had to French so far, and in particular how French nicknames might work (specifically, for a couple of the members of Le Vent du Nord), that suggests to me that it should be “Chiqo”.

Meanwhile, it was quite interesting to me that they chose to put a -d sound on the end of Alderaan–and in particular, they called it “Aldorande”, according, once again, to French Wikipedia. I’m trying to make a reasonable guess as to why the translators at the time might have elected to do that–perhaps just to make it sound a little more French, since “aa” is not a vowel combination you get in the language. Perhaps also to give the word a bit more distinct a pronunciation, since without an ending -e, that -n would just vanish, so maybe giving it a -d sound on the end made it flow better in the dialogue.

Threepio and Artoo’s names were changed, too, though I couldn’t quite catch what they were changed to while I was actually listening to the dialogue; I had to look it up later. Threepio becomes Z-6PO, and Artoo becomes D2-R2. This strikes me as a likely attempt to get names that got phonetically closer to the original English while still making sense in French.

And of course I have to note that Han also had his name changed! He became “Yan Solo”. Which resulted in this little Photoshop gem by Dejah Leger, poking fun at Yann Falquet of Genticorum! Because Dejah’s just awesome like that.

Yann Solo

Yann Solo

The Death Star was “L’Étoile noire”, and the Clone Wars were “La Guerre noire”. Interestingly contradictory to the subtitles in French, which have “L’Étoile de la Mort” and “la Guerres des Clones”. Poking around on Wikipedia suggests to me, from what I can glean out of the French Wikipedia pages, that the translations using “noire” were originally due to trying to sync up with the actors’ mouth motions. I can see “L’Étoile de la Mort” being a problem, with the extra syllables in there.

Vader also had his name changed–Darth Vader became Dark Vador, and my immediate guess there is because -th is NOT a sound they make in French. Also, “Vador” is phonetically closer to “Vader” in English, since the -er syllable in French would come out as a long ‘a’ sound. I know this just from all the various French verbs that end in -er! And I’m also pretty sure I caught Vader being called “Seigneur Vador” by more than one Imperial officer.

Third, my favorite bit that I was able to figure out by ear was Leia’s holographic message to Ben. I was able to catch “Vous êtes mon seul espoir”–although the “Help me” part of that line was actually “Au secours”, NOT “Aidez-moi”, as I was expecting. So the whole line was “Au secours, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Vous êtes mon seul espoir.” Because when you’re making a desperate appeal to a venerable Jedi Knight who fought in the Clone Wars, you’re damn well going to be using “vous”.

By and large I found most of the dialogue too fast to easily follow, even with the help of the subtitles–but I’m pretty sure I caught one bit of French that was NOT in the original English.

In the scene where Vader is reporting to Tarkin that Leia’s resisting his mind probe, the original English line he has is “Her resistance to the mind probe is considerable. It will be some time before we can extract any information from her.” But that second sentence is NOT what Vader says in French. His sentence ends with “maudite princesse”, and I think, but am not a hundred percent sure, that he may be saying something to the effect of “It will not be easy to interrogate that wretched princess”? I hear “parler” in there, and I definitely know “maudite”, because thank you title of the very first Le Vent du Nord album!

All in all: great fun. On to The Empire Strikes Back! I can’t WAIT to try to parse Han’s best scenes with Leia. 😀