doublage et tutoiement

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LV4-26

Senior Member
Hello people,

No, this isn't really a question about the "tutoiement" usage.
It is the same topic but seen from another angle. At least, I hope so.
Otherwise, feel free to tell me (I've already looked up via the search option but I may have missed something)

This is something which has been tickling me for a long time.
When you translate from English to many other languages (I will only speak of what I know best : French), you always have to choose between "tu" and "vous" in the place of the original English writer who's not been confronted with this issue, of course.

I've never had any trouble with that, really. I use "tu" and "vous" according to my characters' psychology and the relationship between them. For instance, in the book I'm translating it seems obvious to me that, when X and Y are speaking, X should say "tu" to Y wheras Y will obviously say "vous" to X.

I'd like to know how you translators from English to French deal with that.

Other than that, I've seen a few French dubbed versions of English movies where one of the characters says to the other :
- On peut se tutoyer ?
(or something to this effect)
And I've always wondered what on earth had been said in English for this sentence.

Surely, I can't be the only one here who's ever wondered about that ?

EDIT : I've just realized there's an even more tricky issue :
How do they translate "on peut se tutoyer" into English ?
 
  • Auryn

    Senior Member
    France, French
    LV4-26 said:
    Other than that, I've seen a few French dubbed versions of English movies where one of the characters says to the other :
    - On peut se tutoyer ?
    (or something to this effect)
    And I've always wondered what on earth had been said in English for this sentence.
    Usually it's "Can I call you [first name]?" or "Call me [first name]".

    EDIT : I've just realized there's an even more tricky issue :
    How do they translate "on peut se tutoyer" into English ?
    My students say "Can we say 'tu' to each other?" Quite awkward, if anyone has a better idea I'm interested too :)
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Gil said:
    It will revolve around being on the first-name basis.
    Okay. This solution occurred to me. So you mean that when you hear
    - On peut se tutoyer ? in an American movie, the English original must have been something like
    - Can I call you James ?
    (assuming, for instance, that what's just been said is "My name is Bond. James Bond":D )
     

    Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    LV4-26 said:
    Okay. This solution occurred to me. So you mean that when you hear
    - On peut se tutoyer ? in an American movie, the English original must have been something like
    - Can I call you James ?
    (assuming, for instance, that what's just been said is "My name is Bond. James Bond":D )
    Exactly, 007
     

    charlie2

    Senior Member
    I know this has nothing to do with Chinese translation, but I just can't resist it. If I have to do the translation in Chinese, the change will be from 您 (vous) to 你 (tu). The difference is that the heart 心 is gone as we get closer. The pronounciation is different too.
     

    Auryn

    Senior Member
    France, French
    LV4-26 said:
    Okay. This solution occurred to me. So you mean that when you hear
    - On peut se tutoyer ? in an American movie, the English original must have been something like
    - Can I call you James ?
    (assuming, for instance, that what's just been said is "My name is Bond. James Bond":D )
    Mais c'est exactement ce que j'ai dit...:(
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Auryn said:
    Mais c'est exactement ce que j'ai dit...:(
    Bien sûr. Même si je n'ai cité que Gil (plus simple), je m'adressais à Gil et à toi.
    Tu peux d'ailleurs remarquer que la tournure précise "can I call you..." que j'ai utilisée, c'est toi qui me l'a suggérée. :)
    Merci à vous tous pour votre contribution.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    In the US people often call each other "sir" and "ma'am" (apart from in the most formal of situations eg talking to the queen, or using "sir" in school to attract a male teacher's attention (we use "miss" even to a married woman to attract the attention of a female teacher, never maam)). We don't do this in the UK and so I had wondered how Americans know when to do this and equally when to stop.

    It seems to be a similar question to the one asked. Is it possible that there is some link with this usage and the tu/vous translation choice? (only talking about American films here, obviously, since we are never as polite as this in the UK!!)
     

    Auryn

    Senior Member
    France, French
    LV4-26 said:
    Bien sûr. Même si je n'ai cité que Gil (plus simple), je m'adressais à Gil et à toi.
    Tu peux d'ailleurs remarquer que la tournure précise "can I call you..." que j'ai utilisée, c'est toi qui me l'a suggérée. :)
    Merci à vous tous pour votre contribution.
    Désolée d'avoir joué du violon :eek:
     

    Auryn

    Senior Member
    France, French
    timpeac said:
    In the US people often call each other "sir" and "ma'am" (apart from in the most formal of situations eg talking to the queen, or using "sir" in school to attract a male teacher's attention (we use "miss" even to a married woman to attract the attention of a female teacher, never maam)). We don't do this in the UK and so I had wondered how Americans know when to do this and equally when to stop.
    I agree that 'ma'am' is only for the Queen, but 'madam' is used in the UK. I was called 'madam' only today, in the supermarket (I obviously don't qualify for 'miss' anymore :mad: ).
     

    lainyn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I'm Canadian, but I use sir and ma'am whenever the person is middle-aged or older (if I don't know them), and this goes outside the bounds of work, where I sir, ma'am, master, and miss everyone. I take that back, I always "sir" males. And I only "miss" female children, never young women. I wouldn't say that my habits are very typical of Canadian young adults, though.

    "On peut se tutoyer" can also be translated as "No need to be so formal, call me ____(first name)."

    ~Lainyn
     

    JazzByChas

    Senior Member
    American English
    In the US, when people address someone formally, usually a superior, the call them "Sir", or "Ma'am", or "Mr. Bond," or "Mrs/Ms. Moneypenny," since we have no Vous/Tu to worry about.

    And, as Tim pointed out, if you want to make an older woman feel complimented, you call her "Miss," to make her feel younger.:)

    The "First-name basis" usually implies familiarity or closeness.

    I have also heard the use of "Mr. James" (Bond) or "Miss Penelope" (Moneypenny) used if a child is addressing an adult. I suppose this is a more recent development in American "tutoiement." In the past, say more than 40 years ago, a child, or younger person would always address an adult (or older person) with "Mr." or "Mrs/Miss" So-and-So, or "sir" or "Ma'am/Miss".
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Funny, when you hear [Mrs + first name] in French, it generally makes you think the person is addressing a whorehouse owner. (e.g. Madame Sophie, Madame Simone, etc..) except when it's Madame Irma, in which case, it's a fortune teller. :) (or whatever you call those ladies who read into a crystal bowl).
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    LV4-26 said:
    Surely, I can't be the only one here who's ever wondered about that ?
    I do wonder a lot about that too... And what especially strikes me is when the two main characters are vouvoying each other until they go to bed together (well, yes, that sometimes happen in movies) and start using the tu only once they're naked... Obviously, in real French life, they would have started tutoying each other a bit earlier. :D


    LV4-26 said:
    Funny, when you hear [Mrs + first name] in French, it generally makes you think the person is addressing a whorehouse owner. (e.g. Madame Sophie, Madame Simone, etc..) except when it's Madame Irma, in which case, it's a fortune teller. :) (or whatever you call those ladies who read into a crystal bowl).
    Let's not forget Madame Pipi, also :D :eek:
     

    Diane93

    Member
    USA, English
    Hello...this is weird. I was thinking about this very thing because I was watching a French film recently. It went like this: A woman asked a new colleague to attend a friend's party with her. At work they used "vous" but she wanted the people at the party to think he was her date. The moment he showed up she hurriedly whispered: on se tutoie. The english subtitle was: let's act like we're friends. Was this a good translation?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Diane93 said:
    Hello...this is weird. I was thinking about this very thing because I was watching a French film recently. It went like this: A woman asked a new colleague to attend a friend's party with her. At work they used "vous" but she wanted the people at the party to think he was her date. The moment he showed up she hurriedly whispered: on se tutoie. The english subtitle was: let's act like we're friends. Was this a good translation?
    It sounds ideal to me. :)
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Diane93 said:
    Was this a good translation?
    As we're dealing with an unsolvable translation problem here (any problem having to do with the translation of "tu" is unsolvable), I'd say it's more or less the best possible adaptation (rather than actual translation). Same as when you try to translate a pun from one language to another.
     

    onehiphippy

    New Member
    English
    In the states we use Ms. alot. makes everything nice and easy. My Girl Friend is much more formal she does use the Madamn. And she actaully used Sir as in Sir Mick. I told her if your not sure of status just use m'lord, that's extra nice.
     
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