Wednesday 9 December 2015

Mots d'Heures

I'm not sure whether this is utter madness or complete genius. I suspect both!

I have a friend who picks up second hand books in charity shops for resale online. He cites his biggest regret as having discovered a signed first edition work of Einstein on a charity shop shelf and, unable to reconcile with his conscience, taking it to the counter to point out their mistake in pricing. He got halfway down the street and had to hold to a lamppost whilst he came to terms with what he'd done. 

Every now and then he takes a chance on something he's never seen before - which is what happened here.

Originally assuming it to be a French work, closer inspection suggested something wasn't quite right. Mots D'heures: Gooses, Rams? I enquired, typing a rough approximation into Google...

Mots D'heures: Gousses, Rames (Mother Goose's Rhymes) is utterly, utterly fascinating. It was published in 1967 by Luis d'Antin van Rooten.

The idea behind it is:

  1. Choose an English nursery rhyme
  2. Speak said nursery rhyme in an incredibly thick, Monty Python-esque French accent
  3. Write down this homophonic translation, so the words mean something in French, but not the context (forming a nonsense poem in French)
  4. Back translate the French into English (forming a nonsense poem in English)

Here's an example from Wiki:

(click to enlarge)

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