It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
I will forgo this month’s question as I have never dealt with audio books. I want to talk about a different issue that has me puzzled, more as a reader than as a writer. Some old-time authors I admire, among them Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Sayers, and several others, sometimes include French sentences in their books, usually in dialogs, without a translation in the footnotes. Why is there no translation? Are all their readers supposed to know French?
Maybe in the past, everyone with education could speak French. I’m not sure, but I doubt it was true even then. I do know for sure it isn’t true now. I don’t speak French. Neither do many of my friends and neighbors.
When I encounter such foreign-language phrases in books, I generally guess what was being said, but it irritates me. Why did the writers do it at all? Didn’t they want their readers to know exactly what they write? Did they want to baffle their readers? And why, for Pete’s sake, don’t the modern editors supply the translation, when a story is reprinted a hundred years later? I’m certain that every modern editor in every publishing house knows that not everybody speaks French. So where are my translations?
Do you have anything to say on this issue? Do you have answers to any of my questions? Are you ever tempted to include French in your own books? Or any other language without translation? Tell me in the comments.