French Speak, and All That

I’m finishing up Angela Carter’s Heroes & Villains (which I enjoy because it’s – because it’s Angela Carter), and there’s this quote at the beginning:

“Ou fuir, dans un pays inconnu, desert, ou habite par des betes feroces, et par des sauvages aussi barbares qu’elles?”

Now, my grandmother is from France (she was a war bride, straight out of formerly-occupied Nancy), my father was born there and lived there for seven years and used to speak fluent French, and I’ve taken two years of college French, but because I’m an American, I’m not fluent in any second language like, say, everybody else in the rest of the world. However, I do know that this says something about deserts, and living, and savages, but I can’t lick it out, so I engaged the help of these… um, not-so-helpful translators:

From Babble Fish:

“Or to flee, in does an unknown country, desert, or live by betes feroces, and qu’elles such cruel savages?”

From Google:

“Or to flee, in does an unknown country, desert, or live by betes feroces, and savages as cruel as they?”

From Free-Translator:

“Or to flee, in does an unknown country, deserted, or live by wild animals, and savages as cruel as they?”

I’m assuming this is an expansion of Nietzsche’s “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster,” quote.

Likely, it means something like this: “Or in fleeing into an unknown country, desert, or place of wild beasts, does one become as cruel as they?”

Reminds me that I should be taking French classes on Saturdays. And reminds me just how lacking all of these online translators still are.

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