Pineapples Do Not Camp


Les ananas ne campent pas!

Les ananas ne campent pas!

My 4 fulls for Phreak Show are still in heart-stabbing, conference-season-delayed limboland. Off and on, I’m still tinkering with a few tiny screws and toggles on it. Seriously, (hear me: seriously!) revisions are never truly done.

What kind of screws am I tightening? Minor things—some I’ve wanted to tweak on my own, and others revealed as loose via some uber-useful & promising pheedback. A few elements are being enriched. One small issue has been mentioned a few times, so that’s definitely under the microscope.

There’s this one small thing that an agenty person pointed out, which I can’t fix on my own. So I’ve called in a specialist. There are 5 short passages in Phreak Show that include a little French. I took a couple years in High School, but I mainly walked away with enough savvy to carry on a  20 second introductory conversation. I mean, even if you add in zut alors! and les ananas ne campent pas, I’m pretty sure my teacher would shake his head in quasi-French disappointment.

As for the Phreak Show phrases, I ran them through Google Translate, and confidently popped them into the manuscript. LAUGHABLE. I trusted GT. Je suis un idot! Thankfully, a Canadian Twitter friend rushed to my aid. At least, I hope she took care of me. For all I know she could have translated “Can you believe this arse trusted a computer to translate for him?”

FTR, this is what ^that^ phrase looks like in Google-French:
Pouvez-vous croire ce cul confiance à un ordinateur de traduire pour lui?

It probably might be somewhat close to nearly correct.

I should watch more Téléfrancais! Like this sparkling gem: Pineapples Don’t Camp! In this episode, Jacques and Sophie decide to go camping in a mysterious green-screen forest. However, trouble arises when they get lost. [Yes, sadly, this is the abiding legacy of two years’ worth of French…]

The next time I need some fancy-schmancy foreign words, I’ll go to an expert. Which is to say: NOT GOOGLE TRANSLATE. Zut alors!

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5 thoughts on “Pineapples Do Not Camp

  1. Haha, yes. The novel I was querying with last year had a lot of Portuguese. I knew NO Portuguese, so I used GT, and then found a friend of a friend who was fluent to simply “touch it up” before I went out into the agent world with the thing. Haaaaaaah yeah. He had to change EVERYTHING. It was pretty hilarious. He also offered up some cool slang tips and cultural insights. I’d definitely recommend finding a real, native person to translate when it comes to languages, for authenticity and for these fun added cultural tidbits. After this experience, I wouldn’t even trust my own German, and I minored in it in college and spent time there as an exchange student.

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  2. My French-Canadian helper also pointed out that she needed context for the translations. She couldn’t merely translate word-for-word because, like English, the meaning would change based on context/gender/etc. There was one pesky phrase I *really* needed to stay simple, but the French translation nearly doubled the word count because it had to clarify one particular word. It’s definitely not a simple thing to include a second language, but can add richness to a piece if done well.

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