lunedì 16 luglio 2018


Several observations on the use of Anglo-Americanisms in his writing 

Plusieurs observations sur l’usage des anglo-américanismes dans son écriture 
Diverse osservazioni sull'uso degli anglo-americanismi nella sua scrittura

According to biographer Pierre Assouline, Simenon did not understand a word of English” in 1939 and, when he crossed the Atlantic to settle in Anglophonic North America in 1945, he still “did not speak English other than thaof ocean liners and hotels. While living in the USA during the subsequent ten years, he would likely have learned a lot more. Logically, he would have been exposed to many uniquely Anglo-American words, and since he had once called the Americans the most authentic novelists of the time,” it is not surprising that many Anglo-American words cropped up in the so-called “American novels” he wrote in French. 
He used words the French Academy had already accepted and incorporated into its official French language dictionary and also sprinkled in many of his own unique selections. For the most part, the latter were what he called mots-matièresa term perhaps best understood as “straightforward” or “unambiguous” words, meaning words descriptive unto themselves and nouns as opposed to adjectives and adverbs. Simenon once asserted in a boasting way, “That’s why I nearly always use concrete words, and he seemed to have sustained this approach in adding American words to his writings. 
In general, the already ‘accepted’ words appeared in standard typeface and the ‘original’ words appeared in italicsNot only is italicization a standard method in writings that indicates a word is foreign, but it also serves to bring the word to the reader’s eye. Another way to signal foreignness and draw attention was Simenon’s novel use of compounding hyphenation.’ For example, he wrote cow-boy for our cowboy. What follows here is a sampling from his romans américains (these 15 novels written from 1929 to 1968 were published in two volumes by Omnibus in 2009) of uniquely américain words that caught this reader’s eye: 
Here are some Simenon ‘original’ words: 
Bacon and eggs, hot dogand highball; road trip, turnpike, trailersand foot-hills; hitman and driver; barn, high school, drive-in, country club, tavern and supermarket; crap games and pin-ball machine; slacks, breeze, flamingo and black ball. 
Here are some common French Academy ‘accepted’ words: 
Night-club, cocktail, and dancing; cottage, motelbuilding and drugstore; lunch and grill; hamburger, sandwich, steaksand sodamob and hold-uprocking-chair, base-ball, living-room, stewardess, and detour. 
And the dialogue is frequently sprinkled with Anglo-Americanisms, such as “Bye-bye! and “How do you do?” and “Good night!” and “Cheerio!” One text has a son address his father as dad and ignores the capitalization proper to written English dialogue, whereas at the same time the father addresses his son as fils in lowercase. 
Sometimesthe author favored British over American versionsbar and “barman” rather than “bar” and “bartender for example. And one translated text completely erased the author’s original ‘Americanization’ effects by omitting the italicization of these key words, which hopefully was not a technique applied to all translations. 

David P Simmons 

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