Homophonic Translation: Pas de lieu Rhone que nous

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a term I just learned, although homophonic translation is familiar to anyone who’s laughed along to that Benny Lava video. It’s “translating” something by writing a phonetic approximation in another language, much like a mondegreen, but the “mis-hearing” bridges two languages.

For instance, I like to annoy my friend Lisa by homophonically translating things she says to me in French. If she says “C’est bon!” I respond “Bone.” If she says “C’est ça,” I answer, “Saw.” I also like to encourage guests to dig in at the start of a meal by announcing “Bony patoot!” By which I guess I mean, Don’t worry your skinny butt about getting fat.

For some reason, there is something particularly amusing about homophonic translations from English into “French”, by which I mean nonsense that looks like French and sounds like English. For example, if you grew up speaking English and can also pronounce French, try reading this little rhyme out loud:

Un petit d’un petit
S’étonne aux Halles
Un petit d’un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu’importe un petit d’un petit
Tout Gai de Reguennes

It was written by actor and wit Luis van Rooten. Recognize it? Here’s a visual clue.

humpty_25545_md

Know any other homophonic translations?

Illustration by Florence England Nosworthy

~ by lolarusa on November 30, 2012.

4 Responses to “Homophonic Translation: Pas de lieu Rhone que nous”

  1. That’s tantalizingly familiar, but I can’t figure out the source. My french pronunciation is far from perfect, so that’s probably hurting my chances.

  2. ok, I think I understand a little. “one potato, two potatoes…” but that rhyme seems too monotonous to generate the French you wrote. Maybe I’m on the wrong track?

  3. I haven’t spoken French for years, but was fluent (reading/writing/speaking), and my pronunciation is still pretty good…..and I haven’t got a clue. What is it? All I can hear when I say it is the French, French accent, French definitions of the words, so maybe that’s in my way of trying to hear it as something else?

  4. I’ve added a clue.

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