Last Rant, New Wishes

Christmas week and a free week here at 4F, 1H, yet anything it’s been anything but ‘free’ here.

I needed to dash off an idea and decided to use one that has been bothering me for some time: writers who assume that you speak another language.

Many ‘classic’ novels, (often written in, and translated from, another language), will often have French phrases thrown in. Apparently, the phrases or terms were commonplace among the literate masses of the time and place the original was published, but only a few times have I ever seen the words/phrases also translated, (and those usually done in footnotes).

Also, a few have Latin, or even Greek, words or maxims placed within descriptions or conversations, without a clue as to their meaning. We poor under-educated modern folk are left hanging, or running for a dictionary…a BIG dictionary. This is where Kindle comes in handy, I can tell you.

I have to say that for an American of modern times, I am fairly well-read. I picked up a few common words and phrases in several languages along the way, (see
Yet, when some otherwise ‘translated’ novel will have an unusual word or a complete axiom in another language, and I have been stymied.

There I have been, blithely reading along in some other-wise well-translated Russian novel, and suddenly screeeeeeeech! The flow of the story comes to a halt because I have no idea what the people are saying due to their sudden shift to French. Or the same in a translated French story that suddenly throws a curve ball of Latin into the scene.

More than once I have been reading an American story and have gotten lost because a major line in a scene just fell into Yiddish.

Now, granted, the house I grew up in reminds some of Star Wars, where many of the characters spoke in their own languages, (even if they were just beeps, boops and whistles), and others would understand and speak back to them in English. My mother would, at times, speak Italian and I would answer in English, so that sounded strange to those outside the family who over-heard us, but I knew what she was saying, or at least, what she meant. But I’d never write such a scene into a story, not without a translation.

However, I have been known to wish friends who I knew would understand, “Qapla!”, which is Klingon for “Success”, and is the best a Klingon can do to come close to “Godspeed!” or even “Good luck”.

I wouldn’t say, write or comment it to someone who I was not sure would understand.

But now that I have given the meaning to you,

I will say


for 2019


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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8 Responses to Last Rant, New Wishes

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    Qapla to you also.
    I’ve never bothered to learn Klingon. I figured if I ever entered a conversation with an entity from those environs, that I’d be able to understand him/her by facial expression and body language. Besides, more often than not, a Klingon would be eager to blast me with a ray gun or something.
    As for the other matter — I, too, occasionally stumble upon foreign words / phrases — Latin more often than others, I believe — which halt my reading until I can guess at the meaning through context. Often, I an unable to guess and unwilling to shift into research mode. So I just plug along and silently resent the author’s trickery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t move on when I don;t understand a word. Even if it’s English,I want to know.I collect dictionaries of all sorts, including my favorite one, which is of literary allusions…I also have a Klingon one, which I have never cracked open!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Qapla to you, too! Hope 2019 is better to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Qapla to you too in 2019!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t say that I recall coming across this problem in my reading though it would bother me if I did. I don’t care for having to look things up in the middle of a story.

    Happy New Year Tonette! I pray 2019 is a better year for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I guess that you haven’t read Tolstoy, Angie; that was the first place I encountered the problem of Russian translated into English, but lapsing into French.
    Thank you for your wishes. I hope 2019 is wonderful for you, too. Your family is in my prayers.


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