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  1. Translations Royale

    A travelogue of Fleming’s French in Casino Royale

    We at CommanderBond.net offer to you a list of translations of the French words and phrases that pepper the novel Casino Royale. We say pepper because they add flavour to an already wonderful text without 007 Days Of Casino Royaleoverburdening the text (and the reader) with the extra work of having to figure out the translations. Fleming constructed sentences that did not depend on the reader understanding what the word meant in French to get the full meaning. On the contrary, the reader can get the meaning of the word in French from the context of the sentence.

    Nevertheless, it is curious to see what the literal and every day meanings of these words and phrases are. You will note that some words do not have any translations. Those words have become part of the English language wholesale, without translation, but with correct meaning attached to them.


    salle privée

    private room

    Le Chiffre

    The figure / The number / The cypher

    caisse

    cashier’s desk

    caissier

    cashier

    chef de partie

    chief of the game

    soirée

    party

    concierge

    caretaker

    merci

    thank you

    monsieur

    mister

    vestiaire

    cloakroom

    Deuxième Bureau

    Second office (The French office of military intellegence)

    Royale les Eaux

    Royal Water

    maisons de passe

    a house you need a pass for

    Inferieure

    lower

    Loi tendant a la Ferméture des Maisons de Tolerance et au Renforcement de la Lutte
    contre la Proxénitisme

    Law tending to the Closing of the Brothels and ot the Reinforcement of the Fight against
    Pimping

    the Société des Bains de Mers de Royale

    the Society of Baths of the Sea of Royale

    en brosse

    crewcut

    trente-et-quarante

    thirty-and-forty: A popular French casino card game in which the dealer deals rows of cards, one red, one black. The player bets on which row will be closest to a total of thirty-one after both rows total greater than thirty.

    cagnotte

    kitty (as in gambling)

    L’Ennemi Écoute

    The Enemy Listens

    Suivi

    follow-up

    grippe

    seize up

    Mairie

    Town Hall

    Vieux-port

    Old port

    Vitrines

    Windows / Displays

    couturiers

    fashion designers

    plage

    beach

    route nationale

    truck road / national route

    heure de aperitif

    Drink hour / Cocktail hour

    Moi, j’adore le “dry”

    Me, I like the “dry”

    fait avec du Gordon’s bien entendu

    With Gordon’s of course

    D’accord Daisy, Mais tu sais un zeste de citron…

    I agree Daisy. But you know a piece of lemon peel…

    fine a l’eau

    an aged brandy and water

    soie sauvage

    wild silk

    sabretache

    A type of leather case once used by cavalrymen

    porte cochère

    carriage door

    alors

    then

    bonne chance

    good luck

    merde

    shit

    Sacre

    damned

    Mademoiselle

    Miss

    Rouge Et Noir

    Red And Black

    huissier

    usher

    Oui, monsieur

    Yes, sir

    pate de foie gras

    liver pate

    Langouste

    Lobster

    Mais n’enculons pas des mouches

    But let us not nit pick / But we won’t split hairs

    Maitre d’hotel

    Matron of the hotel

    rogon de veau

    beef kidney

    pommes soufflés

    apple souffles

    fraises des bois

    wild strawberries

    tournedos

    a small, round steak slice taken from the heart of the tenderloin

    sause Bearnaise

    Bearnaise sauce

    coeur d’artichaut

    artichoke heart

    sommelier

    wine waiter or steward

    parfait

    perfect

    vendeuse

    saleswoman

    vingt-et-un

    twenty-one / blackjack

    Messieurs mesdames, les jeuz sont faits. Un banco de cinq mille

    Gentleman, ladies, the bets are made. A bank value of five thousand.

    Le banco est fait

    The bank value is made.

    Non

    No

    Neuf à la banque

    Nine for the bank

    Et le sept

    And seven

    Un banco d’un million

    A bank value of one million

    Un banco de deux millions

    A bank value of two million

    Banco

    Bank (accept the bank value)

    Un banco de quatre millions

    A bank value of four million

    Sept à la banque

    Seven for the bank

    Et cinq

    And five

    Un banco de huit millions

    A bank value of eight million

    Le jeu est fait

    The play is made

    Un banco de trente-duex millions

    A bank value of thirty-two million

    Excusez moi, monsieur. La mise?

    Excuse me, sir. The bet?

    Mes excuses, Monsieur Bond

    My apologies, Mr. Bond

    Un
    Deux
    Trois
    Quatre
    Cinq
    Six
    Sept

    One
    Two
    Three
    Four
    Five
    Six
    Seven

    La partie continue

    The game continues

    Neuf. Le rouge gagne, impair et manqué

    Nine. The red gains, odd and misses

    Huit à la banque

    Eight for the bank

    Et le neuf

    And the nine

    Un banco de dix millions

    A bank of ten million

    Le neuf

    The nine

    Et le baccarat

    And a count of zero

    La Vie en Rose

    Life in Pink / Life Through Rose Coloured Glasses
    A french song performed most notably by Edith Piaf. English versions were recorded by Louis Armstrong and Paula Cole

    pour épater la bourgeoisie

    To impress the middle-class

    banquettes

    benches / wall seats

    allez

    go

    coupez

    cross

    Les Noctambules

    The Night Birds
    (The phrase can also mean The Insomniacs or The Party Animals)

    Sonnez SVP

    Ring the bell please

    art nouveau

    new art

    vite

    quickly

    belotte

    a popular French card game that is a variant of bridge and played with 2, 3, or 4 players

    mise en scène

    setting in scene

    trou sur mer

    hole on sea

    L’Auberge du Fruit Défendu, crustaces, fritures

    The Inn of the Forbidden Fruit, seafood (shellfish), fried fish

    Madame la patronne

    The lady owner

    Fruit Défendu

    Forbidden Fruit

    vin triste

    an alcohol-induced melancholy

    auberge

    inn

    Pour lui

    For him

    You will note that some words are rather curious, both in their French origins and in the English translations. For example, there is the phrase “mais n’enculons pas des mouches,” which Bond tells us is a vulgar way of saying “But we won’t split hairs.” Its literal translation is “But let us not nit pick.” What is vulgar about that? Has Bond picked one too many nits out of a Bond girl’s hair? Of course, by vulgar Bond may just have meant “not proper French”.

    Other phrases are simply curious to watch as they go through the process of translation. Maisons de passé literally means “houses of the past,” but in every day conversation would be “houses of prostitution.” If you think about it, the literal phrase makes sense. Houses of the Past makes for an interesting literal translation since Prostitution is frequently referred to as the world’s oldest profession, so yes, the past is happily and passionately acknowledged in such a place. Also, in these brothels men can recapture their youthful past where they were free to have sex with whatever woman they wanted, whenever they wanted. The only modern intrusion is in these masions, they must pay for the privledge of reclaiming their past.

    And then there is this curious quote from M., which comes in chapter two of Casino Royale. M. has just read a small passage of the dossier written by the Head of S., where said head of section S uses a little too much French for M.’s liking:


    This is not the Berlitz School of Languages, Head of S. If you want to show off your knowledge of foreign jaw-breakers, be good enough to provide a crib. Better still, write in English.

    Casino Royale Chapter
    Two

    Fleming had to know that his audience would probably not have much more than an elementary understanding of French. Moreover, that understanding was probably forgotten as soon as the reader was done with his (and I won’t write her, because I don’t think Fleming was thinking of persons such as myself when he was writing), schooling. So why would Mr. Fleming put us through a refresher course in French?

    Simply put, we the readers were being introduced to something that Fleming would reveal later on—Bond’s flawless capacity to speak French. As we learn in Fleming’s novels and in Pearson’s “biography” of Bond, Bond can speak perfect French and German. If Bond can communicate in the native language, why wouldn’t he give himself the ease and advantage of speaking in that language? Indeed speaking in the native tongue would help him to blend in more, to slip into the shadows more easily.

    Also, in writing it is always better to show rather than to tell the reader something. After watching Bond speak in colloquial or every day French, we get a greater understanding of who the man is and how he operates.

    Bond and Fleming were well-traveled men. Why shouldn’t they use what they know, and then teach it to us? We could only be the better for the lesson.

    The CBn Team @ 2003-04-08
Follow @cbn007