Montrez les Suisses?

November 27, 2012, 9 Comments

Parlez-vous français? If yes, then here’s your chance of eternity, at least in book terms. Swiss Watching is coming out in French next spring and at the moment it only has the original English title. As wonderful as that is, we want a French title to adorn the cover. And that’s where you come in – can you think of a suitably intelligent, creative, witty, fantastic title? In French.

As you can see from the title of this post, my French has not benefited from being ignored since I did my O’Level in 1983. I can still order a meal, ask directions, book a room and, as so often with other languages, understand more than I can say. So all I could come up with was playing with the French for a watch (montre) and for the verb to show (montrer): the closest I could get to the play on words in the English original. I am sure someone out there can do better!

If you have a flash of  inspiration, then send me a message or leave a comment here, whichever you prefer. There’s no reward in terms of money but you will, of course, get credit for the title in the book, a signed first edition and be invited to the launch in May. And you will see your words on the cover every time you go into Payot or onto Amazon. That means quite a lot, I can assure you.

The French edition is being published by Helvetiq in Lausanne, so it has perfect roots in the Suisse Romande. Not forgetting that they have just published one of my favourite Swiss books this year, Swiss Miniatur, so I am very happy that they will be the ones to create a home for my book in French.

So if you fancy a shot at eternity (no liberty, equality or fraternity as that’s just a bit too French) then put on your thinking cap and come up with some magic. It doesn’t have to be a literal translation of the English. The German title is Der Schweizversteher, or the man who understands Switzerland, which works in German but not in English. So think laterally as well as literally!

Bonne chance, as they say on the other side of the Röstigraben.

9 Comments on "Montrez les Suisses?"

  1. Mary Tuesday November 27th, 2012 at 02:03 PM · Reply

    Don’t use “Montrez les suisses”. That means “show them” in the sense of show them how to do something. That’s not what your book does! In the same vein as Swisscellany, why not Suissitude? Un regard anglophone sur la Suisse – les gens, les coutumes, la vie… or you could go with Montre-moi la suisse ….
    (if you want the play on words)… I’ll let you know if I think of anything better. Good luck!

    • Chris Wednesday December 19th, 2012 at 03:19 PM · Reply

      Not true… Show them would be “montrer AUX Suisses”. Montrer LES Suisses does indeed mean “to show it to others what they (the Swiss) are like”…

      Suissitude is a good one though. Or maybe “Les Suisses dans toute leur splendeur” or “Plus suisses qu’eux tu meurres”

      Pascal and Jeremie suggested a few good ones too…

      Another one: “Helvetica mon amour”…

      Best of luck indeed!

  2. Jérémie Wednesday November 28th, 2012 at 10:44 PM · Reply

    When I think of the original title “Swiss Watching”, I directly make the connection with bird watching. So, since the correct term for a bird watcher in french is “ornithologue”, why not go straight for the neologism and invent the term “suissologue” (hoping it is not already a trademark or something)? It kind of goes in the same direction as “Der Schweizversteher” does in german. The final title could therefore be something like “Le suissologue” to make the parallel with the german title more obvious or “Petit traité de suissologie” which adds a gentle irony to it.

  3. Désirée Thursday November 29th, 2012 at 12:24 PM · Reply

    I like Jérémie’s suggestion. “Petit traité de suissologie” sounds good to me, or alternatively simply “Suissologie” !

  4. Sam Friday November 30th, 2012 at 12:14 AM · Reply

    And whatever the French title will be, please have the publisher provide a back-of-the-book index!

    • Diccon Bewes Friday November 30th, 2012 at 09:54 AM · Reply

      I will try, Sam. Neither the English or German publishers wanted that. In both cases I lost the battle. Fingers crossed for the French!

  5. Pascal Tuesday December 4th, 2012 at 03:00 PM · Reply

    ‘Show me the Swiss’ would be ‘Montre-moi les Suisses’ (singular) which would also be a pun on watches (montres; singular montre).

    The subtitle could be ‘Observations d’un suissologue britannique’ (observations of a British Swissologist). Or if you want to refer to the Swiss mixing of languages: ‘Observations d’un Englishman suissologue’.

    Or how about just ‘Cheese!’ for the main title (as in what you say when you take a picture). If you want something French you could actually scribble it out and ‘translate’ with ‘Fromage!’ on the title page (as a visual pun)

  6. Elizabeth Thursday December 6th, 2012 at 11:03 PM · Reply

    What about this? Suisse Délice!

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