Jules Verne Forum



Re: Cetacean a mile wide and 3 miles long

From: Valetoux <valetoux~at~wanadoo.fr>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 15:40:23 +0200
To: "Jules Verne Forum" <jvf~at~Gilead.org.il>

Dear Vernian friend,

May i join your group for a few words?
In French, "un mille" (with 2 l) is the length of the nautical dimension (1852m) and "un mile" is the length of the british shore dimension (1609m).
I think that there is no confusion in the JV words, as in French, using "un" is about a name. In english, the seamen are speaking about "nautical mile", to avoid any confusion with the land mile. But not in French, as the official unit is the meter and all the french sailors are discussing with the only word "mille". If he has thought about a number for the size, he would have use "de".
The old transcriptions look quite allwright for me, except that in perfect british nautical language, it should be "nautical mille".
The problem is that you are refusing intellectualy those dimensions because really surprising. This is the way Jules wanted you to think!
So, when you later will learn the true dimensions of the "phenomen", you will accept them without any problem, as beleavible! But at that time, no submarine had this length!
Bien joué, Mr Jules!

Yours faithfully,

Valetoux Philippe
Le Havre maritime pilot

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Norm Wolcott
  To: Jules Verne Forum
  Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 8:28 PM
  Subject: Cetacean a mile wide and 3 miles long

  In the very first chapter of 20K we have the following paragraph.

  A prendre la moyenne des observations faites à diverses reprises -- en
  rejetant les évaluations timides qui assignaient à cet objet une
  longueur de deux cents pieds et en repoussant les opinions exagérées
  qui le disaient large d'un mille et long de trois -- on pouvait
  affirmer, cependant, que cet être phénoménal dépassait de beaucoup
  toutes les dimensions admises jusqu'à ce jour par les ichtyologistes --
  s'il existait toutefois.

  To obtain a neutral translation of this paragraph we use google (which uses one of the standard dictionaries ). The words in red I have altered for readability.
  To take the average of the observations made with various recoveries reprises -- by rejecting the timid evaluations which assigned to with this object a length of two hundred feet and by pushing moving back the exaggerated opinions which said it broad had a breadth of one thousand and length of three -- one could affirm, however, whom that this phenomenal being went far beyond all allowed dimensions allowed so far by the ichtyologists -- if there it existed however.

  Here we note a deficiency in the vocabulary, Babelfish only recognizes "mille" as thousand, not "mile" which is an unusual word in French. If we take a look now at the Mercier translation we find that he parallels the machine translation pretty well except for the size of the object (and the alteration of icthylologists, probably did not know what they were)

  Taking into consideration the mean of observations made at divers times -- rejecting the timid estimate of those who assigned to this object a length of two hundred feet, equally with the exaggerated opinions which set it down as a mile in width and three in length--we might fairly conclude that this mysterious being surpassed greatly all dimensions admitted by the learned ones of the day, if it existed at all.

  If we look at Butcher's translation we find he uses miles instead of feet as well :

  Taking the average of the observations made at the various junctures-rejecting both the timid evaluations assigning the object a length of 200 feet and the exaggerated opinions making it three miles long by a mile wide-it could be affirmed that this phenomenal being greatly exceeded all the dimensions the ichthyologists had admitted until then-if indeed it existed at all.

  The Walter translation also uses miles:

  Striking an average of observations taken at different times--
  rejecting those timid estimates that gave the object a length
  of 200 feet, and ignoring those exaggerated views that saw it
  as a mile wide and three long--you could still assert that this
  phenomenal creature greatly exceeded the dimensions of anything
  then known to ichthyologists, if it existed at all.

  The Routledge and Ward Lock translations also use miles, so the consensus is universaly "miles".

  So now we have only the machine translation offering a thousand feet! Looking back at the original French and the other dimensioins mentioned in the chapter, I come to the conclusion that Verne was talking "feet" not "miles" in the paragraph. But I wonder if there are any other opinions on this matter. ??? could it be that Verne is playing a trick by offering two different interpretations by his use of words?


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Received on Wed 12 Apr 2006 - 16:40:32 IDT

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