June 10, 2009


I saw this in the metro today (had to take the metro because of the incessant rain in Paris at the moment). It is the first prize winner in a series of metro poetry, written by people and then posted in trains. I debated posting this or not because:

1. its humor is largely dependent on a knowledge of French, and
2. even with a really good/native knowledge of French, it is possible this isn't even funny.

I haven't decided yet. Well, here I am in my seat on the metro (and in my seat in the French language) looking up at this poster and for now I think it is funny.

The premise of this 'poetry' is a text message. Originally, I thought it was Hawaiian or Tongan. It is actually the way cool French teenagers write to each other on their phones. It is phonetic, so not orthographically correct, but rather, how all of these phrases sound in French. Here they are in French and then their translation in English (but by the time we get there all the charm may have evaporated)...

The original:

Acte 1 : Matuvu ? Tépavu...Tumavu ? Panonplu
Acte 2 : Jetévu ! Tumaplu, Tulasu, Jetéplu, Oncévu, Oncérevu, çataplu?
Acte 3 : Cétouvu, Onskitplu...

What it is in real French:

Acte 1: M'as-tu vu? Je t'ai pas vu...Tu m'as vu? Pas non plus.
Acte 2: Je t'ai vu ! Tu m'a plu, Tu l'a su, Je t'ai plu, On s'est vu, On s'est revu, Ca t'a plu?
Acte 3: C'est tout vu, On ne se quitte plus...

Xavier and I attempted to create an English equivalent. Here is our shot at it:

Act 1: Diuseeme? Idintseeu...Usamee? Meneetha.
Act 2: Isayoo! Ugame, Unooit, Igau, Weesaeechotha, Egen, Diulikit?
Act 3: Itsdun, Toogethafaeva...

And the translation into real English.

Act 1: Did you see me? I didn't see you...You saw me? Me neither.
Act 2: I saw you! You got me, You knew it, I got you, We saw each other, Again, Did you like it?
Act 3: It's done, Together forever...

Merci à Jérôme Le Feuvre, the author of this fabulous mess.


Mary Elizabeth Liberty said...

in a similar vein, I really like the first word of Queneau's Zazie dans le metro:
which I think means~
where/from whom is that horrible smell coming?

Anonymous said...

As an American livig in Paris and trying to learn French, this is both funny and frightening! How will I ever feel like more than a baby-French idiot? :)

Gaby Munoz said...

So, I'm following your blog, Emilie! Hope that's ok =).

I actually saw this a few months ago on one of my trips to class. Every time I saw it or another one of the poems it'd make me chuckle.

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