Found in Translation…

The lady translating my book from English to Korean emailed a few days ago with several questions. We had a good time sorting out idioms and idiosyncrasies, but I knew I was in trouble when HyoungEun emailed a second time to ask: In chapter 23, does “Fuquay Avenue” have something to do with porn? (Am I missing something here?) Or is it just the timing that made Mr Beck laugh so hard?

After cleaning up the coffee I’d spit across the keyboard, I reflected on why, in fact, Jack and I had laughed so hard. For those of you who haven’t read Little Bookstore, you’ve gotta get through Chapter 23 to know what we’re talking about. We couldn’t get outta that town fast enough. (Although I am reliably informed by a sweet reader who recognized her home turf that it has some really nice shopping AND a lovely Middle Eastern restaurant just a few streets over.)

Then, in an attempt to answer HyoungEun’s question, I sent her this response (I have replaced the word in question with ‘eff’ because, quite frankly, about every three days someone finds my blog by searching for “Fulton Ave Books” and “redheaded Wendy porn.” (I have NO idea!) I get enough porn-related search phrases as it is. It would be nice if Google and Yahoo would stop sending inquiring dirty minds my way. There are some lonely, unhappy weirdos out there, and I only wrote about Evansville once!)

HYOUNGEUN: Oh I’m laughing so hard my computer is shaking. Fuquay is a little too close to a word in English that is considered very vulgar. Eff means having sex but it connotes a rather joyless and loveless, merely physical, experience. Bored people and professional sex workers eff. The rest of us make love, or have sex. So Fuquay was a very French sounding way of saying eff and it was in the middle of those lovely mansions and spelled out on a wrought iron street sign, like it was trying to be really classy and wonderful, and it was just this street sex nasty term. (And totally unexpected, just after all those porn shops.) That’s why it made Jack laugh so hard.

HyoungEun sent back a swift response: Oh, of course I know what eff means! (Seen a lot of NC-17 movies. Ahem.) … I should’ve asked this from the start, cause I’ve been searching Google (and Yahoo and….etc.) the whole time and Google God failed me again! They say ‘If you are desperate, you go to Google result page2.’ I went much farther than ‘page2.’

That poor kid. What will the cookies on her computer be doing tomorrow? Will she have to explain anything to her boss? Call me if you need back-up, HyoungEun! I know what those search engines do. It ain’t pretty.

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2 Comments

Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Found in Translation…

  1. anne64

    And then there are the double entendre homonyms: the French word for seal (the kind that likes cold ocean water) is “phoque” pronounced just the way eff is (with a short o). Imagine an embarrassed 14 yr old American girl trying to explain in bad French to her hostess why she was giggling upon learning the French word for that animal in the zoo…. (“Maman… Papa… phoque…. bébé” was as far as she got)

    • American graduate students in Newfoundland took great delight in putting cans of potted seal meat on their desks. It was the in way to show rebelliousness….

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