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#1
Old 06-01-2005, 03:04 PM
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French translation: ''La Cage aux Folles''

I know that the adjective folle is the feminine of fou meaning "crazy." So, does the title in French mean "The Crazies Cage" or "The Nut House?" Or is it an French idiom that shouldn't be translated word for word.
#2
Old 06-01-2005, 03:05 PM
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I ask because the play did not seem to deal much with crazy people.
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Old 06-01-2005, 03:11 PM
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I believe it's kind of like "The Mad Cage" Sounds to me like it would have the same meaning as Americans saying "the nut house", "the cuckoo's nest" etc.

I'm sure someone will come along with more detail.
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#4
Old 06-01-2005, 03:13 PM
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In the play (and later movie), "La Cage aux Folles" is the name of the night club owned by Renato. The name refers to the "crazy things" that go on there (drag queens! oh my!) rather than to a mental institution as such.

The word "folly" (as in Ziegfeld Follies) is from the same origin.
#5
Old 06-01-2005, 03:15 PM
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Turner Classic Movies has an article about the 1978 version of La Cage aux Folles. They give the translation as "Mad Cage", which does seem to idiomatically suggest "cuckoo's nest" (as Chao posits).

Knowing that the 1996 remake The Birdcage was based on LCAF, I was kind of thinking that folles was an alternative word for "birds" instead of the more conventional oiseaux). That is apparently incorrect.
#6
Old 06-01-2005, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
Turner Classic Movies has an article about the 1978 version of La Cage aux Folles. They give the translation as "Mad Cage", which does seem to idiomatically suggest "cuckoo's nest" (as Chao posits).
Another bird-related english idiom for mental institution: "Booby hatch." (The use of "Loony bin" also has some avian influence, in addition to the primary association with the moon.)

Hmmm... perhaps it might be possible to gull people into accepting a hypothesis that seabirds were thought to make people crazy.

"It is an ancient mariner, and he stoppeth one of three..."
#7
Old 06-01-2005, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
I know that the adjective folle is the feminine of fou meaning "crazy." So, does the title in French mean "The Crazies Cage" or "The Nut House?" Or is it an French idiom that shouldn't be translated word for word.
In addition to being an adjective, fou/folle can also be used as a noun, meaning "a crazy man/woman."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Antonius Block
The word "folly" (as in Ziegfeld Follies) is from the same origin.
Yup. It comes from the French noun folie.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mudd
Another bird-related english idiom for mental institution: "Booby hatch."
And interestingly enough, "booby" (the bird) translates as un fou in French.
#8
Old 06-01-2005, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
Knowing that the 1996 remake [i
The Birdcage[/i] was based on LCAF, I was kind of thinking that folles was an alternative word for "birds" instead of the more conventional oiseaux). That is apparently incorrect.
I remember still another translation: when seeing ads for the movie (I think), the main title would be given as LCAF, with a 'translation' in parentheses below, "Birds Of A Feather".

I never quite understood why translations of movie and book titles can be so far off the mark. Sometimes they can be downright wrong, or at least seem to have little to do with the meaning of the original title.
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Old 06-01-2005, 04:30 PM
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Umberto Eco's Il Secundo Diario Minimo (literally, The Second Little Diary) is published in English as "How To Travel With a Salmon, & Other Essays."

And you thought "The Birdcage" was a bit of a jump!

--Cliffy
#10
Old 06-01-2005, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
I know that the adjective folle is the feminine of fou meaning "crazy." So, does the title in French mean "The Crazies Cage" or "The Nut House?" Or is it an French idiom that shouldn't be translated word for word.

It shouldn't be, indeed. Though "folle" is normally the feminine form of "fou" (crazy), it's also a slang word refering to blatantly effeminated homosexual men, like one of the character in the play/movie.
#11
Old 06-01-2005, 04:38 PM
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"folle" is also slang for an effeminate gay guy.
#12
Old 06-01-2005, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazz
"folle" is also slang for an effeminate gay guy.
"Birdie" has this sense in English. What a tangle!
#13
Old 06-01-2005, 09:03 PM
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And faygelah in Yiddish means little bird/gay man.
#14
Old 06-01-2005, 09:18 PM
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Whoa-- and all this time I thought it literally meant "the birdcage," with folles somehow related to the English fowl. Live and learn, and other cliches.
#15
Old 06-01-2005, 10:47 PM
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Spectre of Pithecanthropus:

> I never quite understood why translations of movie and book titles can be so
> far off the mark.

That's often the best way to translate a title. If the title has a double meaning, it pften doesn't work to translate it as either the literal or the figurative meaning. If you translate it as the literal meaning, the title sometimes just sounds irrelevant to the movie. If you translate it as the figurative meaning, it sometimes sounds like you're being too blatant about the theme of the film. Often the best thing to do is to choose a different double meaning in the language that you're translating the title into that's relevant to the film.
#16
Old 06-02-2005, 03:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus
I never quite understood why translations of movie and book titles can be so far off the mark. Sometimes they can be downright wrong, or at least seem to have little to do with the meaning of the original title.
Chalk it up to the fact that four words in French are often ten in English and vice versa. Not everything translates smoothly, and the person marketing the flick isn't always a trained linguist. To get a similar effect of an idiomatic title in another language might involve turning the whole thing topsy turvy.
#17
Old 06-02-2005, 03:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner
Spectre of Pithecanthropus:

> I never quite understood why translations of movie and book titles can be so
> far off the mark.

That's often the best way to translate a title. If the title has a double meaning, it pften doesn't work to translate it as either the literal or the figurative meaning. If you translate it as the literal meaning, the title sometimes just sounds irrelevant to the movie. If you translate it as the figurative meaning, it sometimes sounds like you're being too blatant about the theme of the film. Often the best thing to do is to choose a different double meaning in the language that you're translating the title into that's relevant to the film.
The example I always think of as a well translated film title is the 1984 French film Poulet au Vinaigre, which was released in the UK as Cop au Vin.
#18
Old 06-02-2005, 05:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mudd
"Birdie" has this sense in English. What a tangle!
And of course 'Ducky', as in "Oooh, Ducky!"...
#19
Old 06-02-2005, 07:31 AM
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The Spanish production was called "La Jaula de los Locas" and the German "Ein Kofig voller Narren."
#20
Old 06-02-2005, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaudere
And faygelah in Yiddish means little bird/gay man.
Could this be the basis for "fag"?

rwj
#21
Old 06-02-2005, 01:07 PM
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There is a lot of poor translation in the titles and subtitles of Satyajit Ray's movies.

In particular, Apur Samsar is translated as The World of Apu, which fails to capture most of the meaning of samsar (pronounced "shong-shar"). While it does literally mean "world," when you speak of a particular person's samsar, the usual meaning is his adult life, which includes a wife, a separate household, and children. An unmarried man would never be spoken of as having a samsar.
#22
Old 06-02-2005, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwjefferson
Could this be the basis for "fag"?
Nope -- that's derived from "faggot," ("loose end.") As a pejorative, it was originally applied to street prostitutes -- the association is with literal gutter trash.

The yiddish word may have influenced its use, though.
#23
Old 06-02-2005, 05:33 PM
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See Straight Dope Staff Report: How did "faggot" get to mean "male homosexual"? The Archives are your friend.
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