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Little Red Riding Hood Moral

February 8, 2011

Sticking with the themes of translation and Little Red Riding Hood, the following are two translations of the moral at the end of Charles Perrault’s “Petit Chaperon Rouge” (“Little Red Riding Hood”). My intention was to create a translation that retained the rhyme scheme and the overall message of the original. Thus, there are many literal differences, but they should express roughly the same thing using roughly the same format.

First, the original:

On voit ici que de jeunes enfants,
Surtout de jeunes filles
Belles, bien faites, et gentilles,
Font très mal d’écouter toute sorte de gens,
Et que ce n’est pas chose étrange,
S’il en est tant que le Loup mange.
Je dis le Loup, car tous les Loups
Ne sont pas de la même sorte ;
Il en est d’une humeur accorte,
Sans bruit, sans fiel et sans courroux,
Qui privés, complaisants et doux,
Suivent les jeunes Demoiselles
Jusque dans les maisons, jusque dans les ruelles ;
Mais hélas ! qui ne sait que ces Loups doucereux,
De tous les Loups sont les plus dangereux.

First translation:

The lesson we learn from this story
Is that for girls who talk to strangers,
Completely ignoring the dangers,
The ending can turn out quite gory.
They might wind up being pursued
And end up as a wolf’s food!
It’s important to beware.
Some wolves come off very kind,
They seem gentlemanly and refined,
But they’re often trying to ensnare
Little girls who don’t take care.
They’ll follow the girls any place,
They’ll never stop giving chase.
It ought to be clear from this parable
That this sort of wolf’s the most terrible.

Final translation:

The moral of Little Red Riding Hood
Is that girls who talk to those they don’t know,
Shooting the breeze with every John Doe,
Are not doing what they should.
It is utterly unsurprising
That this attitude is compromising.
Some of these people are actually vicious,
Even though they seem quite nice
The truth is they wouldn’t think twice
About doing something malicious,
For, to them, small girls are delicious,
And they’ll never get off your back
Until you’re their afternoon snack!
The wolves who are in fact the most frightful
Are those who at first seem most delightful.

On voit ici que de jeunes enfants,
Surtout de jeunes filles
Belles, bien faites, et gentilles,
Font très mal d’écouter toute sorte de gens,
Et que ce n’est pas chose étrange,
S’il en est tant que le Loup mange.
Je dis le Loup, car tous les Loups
Ne sont pas de la même sorte ;
Il en est d’une humeur accorte,
Sans bruit, sans fiel et sans courroux,
Qui privés, complaisants et doux,
Suivent les jeunes Demoiselles
Jusque dans les maisons, jusque dans les ruelles ;
Mais hélas ! qui ne sait que ces Loups doucereux,
De tous les Loups sont les plus dangereux.
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Wordcloth permalink*
    March 3, 2011 6:25 pm

    They actually only took a few hours. I was prepared to work harder, but I was so happy with what I ended up with that I stopped! (Plus I was on a deadline for class…)

  2. Justin permalink
    February 25, 2011 12:28 pm

    I am so going to be careful from now on about “shooting the breeze with every John Doe”! I wish I could understand French well enough to compare the translations back to the original. Oh well, maybe some day…

    How long did you spend working on the translations?

  3. Wordcloth permalink*
    February 13, 2011 12:47 pm

    Thanks to you both! These translations were a lot of fun, and I’m glad you liked them!

  4. Old Man D. permalink
    February 9, 2011 9:33 am

    Impressive. The first was good but the second a big improvement. I can’t even fathom how you achieved this. Well done!!

  5. RGS permalink
    February 8, 2011 10:25 pm

    I think both translations are wonderful! Particularly love “Some wolves come off very kind,
    They seem gentlemanly and refined,” (I think that is my ultimate favorite), and “It is utterly unsurprising That this attitude is compromising.” and “The wolves who are in fact the most frightful Are those who at first seem most delightful” Great work on this!!!

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