Saturday, September 23, 2006
Tacos in Translation
There are no Mexican restaurants in the town where I live, so every once in a while when I am really desperate, I go to the local Taco Bell. Recently this has been more fun than usual, since the little packets of taco sauce, which previously were unadorned, now sport "cute" sayings in both French and English. I like them for two reasons: first, they illustrate the conciseness of written English compared to written French, and second, because they illustrate how difficult it is to translate while retaining all the nuances. "You had me at Taco", for example, is evidently an illusion to the line "You had me at 'hello'" from the movie Jerry Maguire, while the translation (as far as I can see) doesn't even try to come up with a similar movie allusion from a French movie. (Readers, please correct me if I am wrong.)
On the other hand, if the folks at Language Log get hold of this, I'll probably learn why everything I just said is wrong.