On most occasions during the war accurate translation between the Allies was useful, necessary, often vital. On other occasions, not. Here we present useful and maybe not so useful examples.
The programme from February 1919 was printed for a cabaret-style performance for the Officers Club at the YMCA in Roubaix, and involved members of two concert-party troupes, one French, one from the BEF. Given that this was composited and printed in France, there are few typos and mistranslations – ‘shradowgraph’, and ‘concerted item’, in place of which would usually be ‘The Company’. ‘Special cars’ is applied to the tram system, rather than cabs. ‘Scotch’ was a standard alternative for ‘Scottish’ at the time, and ‘lady Impersonator’ might be used in place of ‘female impersonator’ to convey a higher social status for the performance.
On the other hand the translations on these postcards of a contorted pun and a tongue-twister require some mental contortion in themselves. Why on earth do this? It doesn’t work. Puns do not translate; tongue-twisters cease to twist tongues when translated. Or were these explaining the joke to people who already realised they were jokes? Both cards were printed in Britain, though the first was sent within France in July 1919. The translator of the second card seems to have given up trying to do anything with it.
Answers on a postcard please.