Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On a lighter note: Middle English comics!

Hey, did you all know there was a blog that translates newspaper comic strips into Middle English? Well I didn't know until my friend the Funny Playwright (colleague Victoria's husband) forwarded it to me. Get this: it's called "Japes for Owre Tymes." Bahahahaha!

The top post when Funny Playwright forwarded it to me was this one, which actually manages to make Lynn Johnson's "For Better or Worse" funny. I don't know exactly why, but it's a *hoot* in Middle English. And I also dig the blogger's self-description: "I am a bad-tempered English prof who spends far too much time not writing articles about Geoffrey Chaucer. Shame on me." Te-hee!

But part of the reason I found this blog extra funny is completely accidental and idiosyncratic, but a story worth telling. This summer, when I was on the train to Windsor for my adventures in manuscript study, I sat across the aisle from a hodge-podge of 20-something travelers who had to have met in a youth hostel, given that they each came from different North, Central, and South American countries. Plus, they were clearly still in the introductory stages of "what do you do for a living" or "where or you from" conversation. Anyway, once they got the small talk out of the way, they all (or most of them) had a bonding moment over what is apparently THE biggest thing in Latin American television aside from Ugly Betty. You know what it is? It's Dennis the Menace. No, I'm not making this up. Seriously. Dennis the freakin' Menace. That's what they said, anyway. And then they argued whether the movie or tv show came first. I decided not to get involved, partly because I was too confused.

So, back to "Japes for Owre Tymes," after reading the current post, I went back to catch up with earlier ones, which is not too difficult now since the blog is nearly brand new. Anyway, the next most recent one is a Dennis the Menace panel. See, even he's funny in Middle English! Now, go read the comments and you'll see the first one is in Portuguese! Those Brazilian Dennis fans are *everywhere* man! I decided to use Babel Fish to translate what the commenter was saying, because I was curious to see if he was surprised it was a comic that's been around since the '50s. But no, this is what Babel Fish tells me he said:

… denis it is much more show in hq or livened up drawing, the film was not very legal! congratulations for posts and blog! Success!

I'm sure that's a terrible translation. Or maybe it's just spam. But it suggests to me that the Latin American Dennis is an illegal knock-off, which explains why I can't find any info on it on the 'net (though I didn't try very hard).

Anyway, I think "Japes for Owre Tymes" is hilarious, even without random references in Portuguese to the worldwide popularity of that not-at-all-very-menacing scamp Dennis. How can you not like a blog that starts its life with a Middle English version of Mary Worth??


Anonymous said...

One of the confusing things about being in England is that Dennis the Menace is an entirely different character. (Comic, t.v. series, no movie) I was thus reassured to find you were talking about the same one I grew up with.

Catrala said...

My Portuguese is pretty rusty, but in case anyone wants a translation of the Portuguese post:

Denis is much better in comic strips (história em quadrinhos) than in the movie, the movie wasn't very cool.

They then go on to congratulate the person for their blog, etc, etc.

What can I say, my Portuguese is much better than my Middle English. But it's a fun find!

Dr. Virago said...

Catrala -- that makes *much* more sense! But Babel Fish's translation is now *hilarious* as a result - thanks!

Bardiac said...

Thanks for sharing your find!

Dedalus said...

This reminds me very much of Wordless Garfield, a meme that wandered around a while back. Turns out that if you remove the cat dialogue from Garfield strips, making him more like, you know, an actual cat, that it alters the tone of the thing from Cornball Pet Humor to Stark Existential Dread.

Speaking of Internet Tradition, I've been so wrapped up in my mundane existence that I forgot it was Talk Like a Pirate Day. Call me a sap if you will, but our Nerd Heritage matters. Arrr.