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puns & wordplays    
cultural references
category Page, panel French version English version
Change Page5, p7 B' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ! Elle est f 'oide! "Brrrrrrrrr!" to express the feeling of the cold turns into "B' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '". The gag is on the form (how shall we read "' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '"?), but couldn't be translated. The french [r] is often misspronounced when speaking with the african-french accent. It's not the case with the English [r]. I'se c-c-c-c cold! The gag is still about pronouciation but the question is no longer how to read it, but what do you hear. The Black lookout is given the typical southern afroamerican accent (see Miss Watson’s black slave Jim in Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain). "I'se cold" echoes "Ice cold", refering again to the temperature of the water.
Same (quote) Page5, p7 O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint ! Agricolas! From: Virgile, Géorgiques, II,458-459. O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint ! Agricolas! From: Virgile, Géorgiques, II,458-459.
Change Page6, p2 Ils parlaient la même langue que les Gaulois, mais avaint une façon un peu spéciale de s'exprimer... (...) Il est, n'est-il pas?... makes fun of the question tags which are translated word for word and then doesn't mean anything in French. The straight translation is used for gags through the entire story (literal translation of tags, idioms, English grammar strucures...). See at: They spoke the same language, but with some peculiar expressions of their own... The whole problem for the translator with this album is here. (...) I say, rather, old fruit! replaces the question-tag gag which wouldn't have kept anything funny if it had been translated straight (It is, isn't it?). The difference of speaking between the Britons and the Gauls from Bretagne is kept. Instead of speaking the straight translated English they speak in the French version the Brittons will use a somewhat "oxfordian" English, rather formal, filled with expressions such as "Old fruit, old chap, repetition of jolly ...".
Change Page6, p6 S'il vous plait, faites! The english expressions are translated word for word here again. Righty-ho, luv (...) Marmalade's off! This translation marks a change with the formal English spoken by the Britons. But only the waitresses and later the thief use this casual English.
Loss Page6, p6 Puis-je avoir de la marmelade pour les roties? Goscinny makes a pun with the use of "roties" (translation of "peace of toast"). This can be seen as a double gag. "Toast" becomes "roties" ( [roti] which can be understood as "piece of toast", but also as "roast"), and if so, this is the first cutting remark to the English cooking (marmalade with roast?).  
Same Page6, p9 Toute? Non! Car un village résiste encore à l'envahisseur. Repeats the introduction of all the Asterix stories but applies it to another village. All? No... One village still holds out against the invaders. Idem
Change (name) (caricature) Page7, p1 Is Zebigbos Winston Churchill's caricature, or Harold Winlson's? For the French reader, nowadays, no doubt Churchill's name rings more a bell than Wilson. But Mykingdomforanos is the defender of a small humble village where people don't always speak the Oxfordian English (the waitresses page 2), fighting against the Roman imperialism. That role suits better to a Labor Party prime minister like Harold Wilson, who was indeed Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970 and from 1974 to 1976. The French version of Asterix chez les Bretons was released in 1966, and the English version came in 1970. Plus we may recognize Uderzo's caricature closer to Wilson's face than to Churchill's.
Winston Churchill? Harold Wilson?
Change (name) Page7, p2 O'Torinolaringologix, Mac Anotérapix, Jolitorax O'Veryoptimistix, McAnix, Anticlimax
New (accent) Page7, p2   Caledonian accent could'nt be conveyed in French but the translator couldn't leave it out so where the French version just makes fun of the typical names from Ireland and Scotland, the Enghish translation also contains a reference to the very specific Scottish accent.
Page7, p4; Page7, p5
(...) c'est grace à une potion magique qui leur donne une force surhumaine. The constant English grammatical construction with the the adjective before the noun is not true here. Neverthless, the scene with Obelix trying to understand English grammatical constructions has not been read yet, (p9). We may consider that the characters are speaking between themselves (no non-British character in this scene, considering the Hibernians and the Caledonians as beeing British, see P7 p2) and therefore that their words are translated in a correct French though some idioms are still translated straight.  
Change Page7, p7 Bonne chance, et toute cette sorte de choses... Literal translation of idiom, retranscribed in its original form in the English version. Jolly good luck, old boy, and all that sort of things... A good example of the translator's strategy. The idiom used here ("...and al that sort of things") is kept in English in its original form, so in the English version, the funny thing is not here. It is in the addition of "jolly" and "old boy" we explained earlier.
Change? Page7, p9 Frêle esquif. This combo appears many times in the album. Jolly-boat is indeed the faithful translation of "frêle esquif". The choice of "jolly-boat" by the translators surely was motivated by "jolly" which echoes the recurrence of the word in the Britons' speech bubbles.
Same Page 7, p10 La tribu des Cambridges refers to the Oxford - Cambridge boat race. The tribes of the Oxbridgienses. "Cambridges" becomes "Oxbridgienses" (Oxford + Cambridge) for a better allusion to the race between the two universities. The average French reader would be more familiar with "Cambridge" or "Oxford" than with "Oxbridge". That's a way to avoid bias towards one of the two. What would the Oxfordian-fan reader think if there was only Cambridge was cited?
Loss Page8, p5 Je dis. Ca c'est un morceau de chance! Je suis Jolitorax! Secouons-nous les mains! Literal translation again, even the plural is kept for "hands". The French equivalent use a singular form: "secouons-nous la main". Oh, I say, what a bit of luck! I'm Anticlimax. Let's shake hands, old boy. Another example of the difficulty for the translators to convey the original humour. Except the "I say" and the "old boy", the speech in English doesn't have anything funny.
Change (drawings) Page8, p7 Uderzo usually draws quite wide speech bubbles so he can be sure the text will fit in, and it gives a better quality for reading. Here, Jolitorax' speech bubble has the average space between the text and the border.

But the bubble has been resized for the translation. What made the translators change the graphical aspect of the panel?

-In the 5th panel, we saw that the translation for "secouons-nous les mains" was kept as the original -and not funny- "let's shake hands". The translators had the possibility to repeat the process with the "secouons-nous les mains" of the 7th panel. On one hand it would fit into the speech bubble, but on the other, this would not have been faithful with the original gag, and it would have been lost in the translation (we saw it happens sometimes).

-Anticlimax could have just said "Shake!" to Obelix, but it wouldn't have fitted with the distinguished tone of his speaking.

-In this particular case, Anticlimax' speech had to keep the original gag with the "shaking" idea because of the following panel where Obelix literally shakes the foreigner like a carton of orange juice. He doesn't only "shake the hands" like Asterix and Anticlimax do in panel 6.

-To make the Briton say something Obelix understands the "right" way (so that panel 8 hits the gag), Bell & Hockridge used the expression "shake me by the hand", which suited very well for the situation.

-"Shake me by the hand" used alone would break the formal usual speaking of Asterix's cousin (as for "Shake!"). Therefore the translators had to find a way to soften the sentence qnd keep the very polite tone of the character. They added: "Any friend of Asterix is a friend of mine! Sir, I should be very proud if you would shake e by the hand!" Hence the gag in the 8th panel can be understood: Obelix understands everything to the letter and has on idea of his strength. He literally shake Anticlimax by the hand.

-the French version makes fun of the English idiom "let's shake hands" by translating it literally. "Secouer" for "shake" allows the gag in the 8th panel, where the right French expression "serrer la main" (grip the hand) couldn't lead to the same situation, while the English translation also makes fun of an expression (shake me by the hand) by showing the two very different ways to understand it.

Change Page8, p6&9 Mais c'est ce Germain qui m'a dit... Obelix doesn't know the meaning of "cousin germain" (first cousin). He thinks Jolitorax is Asterix's Germanic cousin ("germain" = germanic). It' just one of the many times Obelix shows his limits when dealing with culture.

In panel 6, Asterix welcomes Anticlimax and says "Anticlimax! My first cousin once removed!" It may appear "overtraduced": first cousin is the equivalent for "cousin germain". The problem is that Obelix's mistake can't be kept in the tranlation if Asterix says just "Anticlimax, my first cousin!". The expression "first cousin once removed" had two assets. It keeps the original kinship between Asterix and his Briton fellow. The speech bubble its wide enough to contain a third line. In fact, the original speech bubble almost seems like it has a line missing. The other quality is the possibility it gives to the translators to find an equivalent gag for Obelix's unculturedness. In the English version, he understands "once removed" as "has een re-moved yet". No need to say that Obelix notion of moving something is quite different from not-fallen-in-the-magic-potion people... Obelix explains in panel 9 "he's been removed once anyway, and he asked me to...": Anticlimax surely knew what it was to be "re-moved" by beeing shaked by the hand as he has already been removed once! We may hesitate in front of asterix's reaction: angry because of the violence, ashamed by his "best friend"'s stupidity before his cousin, or both. The only difference between the two versions of the scene is that the original opposition between "Germain" and "Breton" is lost.