New forms of devotion in Firmicus Maternus? Or possibly not…

I’ve returned to translating Firmicus Maternus.  Part of the preparation for doing so was to get hold of the French editions and translations, and I ran one of these through a machine translator.  Working through this, I came to the following remarkable output:

 Si tu veux, libéré, suivre la lumière de l’époux, rejette tes erreurs et occupe-toi avec un zèle assidu de racheter par une religieuse dévotion les crimes de ta vie antérieure.

If you want, freely, to follow the light of the bridegroom, reject your errors and occupy yourselves with assiduous zeal to repurchase by a chocolate éclair devotion the crimes of your former life. 

How “religieuse” became “chocolate eclair” I can’t imagine!  But somehow, although inappropriate as a translation, isn’t the phrase “chocolate eclair devotion” rather an apt one?


13 thoughts on “New forms of devotion in Firmicus Maternus? Or possibly not…

  1. But we haven’t wrangled yet over what order the pastry is supposed to represent! 🙂

    That pastry looks really good. Is it lunchtime yet?

  2. It’s always lunchtime somewhere, Maureen. Remember, catholic means universal. Declare your solidarity with Christians in distant lands, other time zones.

  3. This reminds me of a translation project in which they tried to translate a source text to various English dialects. The proud first words of the American Declaration of Independence, “We, the people”, were rendered into Californian as “Us guys”.

  4. I get it: there’s a chocolate éclair pastry that looks like a nun, hence, “une religieuse.” Sort of like some people taking President Kennedy’s declaration, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” to mean “I am a jelly doughnut.”

  5. Roger, si tu veux some help, souviens-toi que tu as a professional French translator in your occasional kennel. And this is topical for me as well, since the Teubner Firmicus falls into the public domain on January 1 and I’m preparing a transcription of the Latin for Lacus; so I’ll be in a Firmicus mode off and on for a few weeks.

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