Continuing the theme of children’s literature – I decided to pick up a French version of Roger Hargreaves’ chef d’oeuvre “Mr Silly” the other day. Not just because I felt we should have at least one or two French language books for the kids to read, but also because it happens to be one of my favorites.
Even as a children’s book it would be hard to find a more accomplished piece in the field of ‘silly’ humour. Only the exploits of Monty Python are in any way comparable – in my humble opinion.
What is surprising about the translated version though – is that Mr Silly is not called Mr Silly, but ‘Mr Surprising’. Which is surprising, because silliness and surprising-ness are two entirely different things. The problem for the French though is that they don’t have a word for ‘silly’. Which by all accounts is quite surprising because they have a word for ‘ridiculous’.
But then if you look up ‘silly’ in an English>French dictionary it will suggest ‘ridiculous’ as the closest translation. No wonder then, they have such a hard time understanding ‘British Humour’, they think ‘silliness’ is more or less ‘ridiculousness’ and that the only way to differentiate between the two – is that one is more surprising than the other. Which if you ask me is just silly, if not entirely ridiculous.
I’ll stop typing now; this post is getting too silly.