Accidence will happen
May 12, 2013 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Asterix: Latin Jokes Explained. Andrew Girardin is working his way through Asterix, and explaining the latin bits.
"In the English versions of Asterix, the Latin jokes are not translated or explained. Very few Asterix fans know Latin. Some may know Veni Vidi Vici, or even Alea Iacta Est, but that's about it."
posted by jenkinsEar (15 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
This is excellent and is a lot of fun to read. Great find, great post!
posted by hippybear at 5:38 PM on May 12, 2013

Very handy. Thanks!
posted by chinston at 5:47 PM on May 12, 2013

This is awesome!! What a fun project.
posted by gemmy at 6:14 PM on May 12, 2013

Huh, he's a Kiwi. REPRESENT.

I also liked this one about him being bullied by a nine-year-old girl via post-it notes.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:28 PM on May 12, 2013

This is fantastic! Thank you very much for sharing this. Even if you know the Latin, some of these jokes still require some explanation.
posted by Davenhill at 10:51 PM on May 12, 2013

Nice. Thanks, jenkinsEar.

Damn, I wish I still had my old collection of Asterix books in French to compare. I wonder if the Latin jokes are the same.
posted by homunculus at 11:40 PM on May 12, 2013

Nice! Just spent 2 hrs relieving my Astrix love.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 11:52 PM on May 12, 2013

Here's a nugget of French culture: every French family used to own a copy of a one-volume encyclopedia called Le Petit Larousse Illustré, first published in 1905 and still a best-seller today. The Petit Larousse contains two main sections, one for common words and one for proper nouns, but the most famous part is a 30-page section wedged between them. Known as the pages roses (pink pages), it is a delightful list of Latin and foreign locutions, proverbs and other famous quotes with French translations/explanations (it also includes English expressions such as All right, At home and Shocking). The pages roses are a fun read and were always quite popular. French readers of Astérix kept their Larousse and its pink pages close at hand and probably learned more Latin there than in class.
posted by elgilito at 1:17 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have always found it quote remarkable how well asterix was translated, with puns and everything. awesome job, and my appreciation has grown with this post.
posted by wilful at 5:17 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have always found it quote remarkable how well asterix was translated

No surprise there, as the English translator is Anthea Bell, who has also translated Thomas Mann, W.G. Sebald and Stefan Zweig. She's written very entertainingly about the challenges of translating Asterix into English (Translating Names, Translating Songs, Translating Puns) and some of her ingenious solutions:

The French originals take a well-known song that can be slightly twisted to give it the Gaulish flavour, for example, Astérix Gladiateur / Asterix the Gladiator, p. 37. The French is a well-known song about Ménilmontant, adapted to mention the typical Gaulish standing stones or menhirs carried about by Obelix; in English it becomes, ‘Love is a menhir splendid thing’.
posted by verstegan at 5:46 AM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

Hm, in the German books all the Latin phrases have translations in the footnotes. German Asterix wins!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:52 AM on May 13, 2013

Even better, for "Ils sont fous, ces Romains", the Italian translator came up with Sono Pazzi, Questi Romani.

(PS - there is a Latin version of Asterix Gallus, though they appear to have taken no trouble with the typeface.)
posted by BWA at 3:08 PM on May 13, 2013

The translation history of Asterix is a little tangled - see the early anglicisation efforts that turned everyone's favourite Gaul into a forgettable rosbif. Little Fred: The Ancient Brit with Bags of Grit, Britons Never, Never, Never Shall Be Slaves! and In the Days of Good Queen Cleo.
posted by zamboni at 3:37 PM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

I quite quickly skipped from the Asterix posts into reading the rest of the site and it's all great. Andrew has posted a few comments in there acknowledging us (jenkinsEar you probably want to check the comments on this one) so he's totally watching.
posted by shelleycat at 12:08 PM on May 25, 2013

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