As I write this, most of the US has been under confinement for going on two months. For me, it has been two months, ’cause I spent the week before everything went to shit isolating myself voluntarily–I was coughing like crazy, with what turned out to be whooping cough–and I didn’t want to get stoned to death on the Washington DC Metro. (Lapider–to stone. Such a beautiful word for such a horrible way to kill someone.)
So, the other night I’m watching a new apocalyptic series on Netflix. The crisis is not realistic, the most unrealistic of the characters is especially irritating, and…well, in general, it’s just an irritating show. I put down my iPad in frustration, step out on the porch, and light a cigarette.
I light my cigarette, and I’m thinking about what’s going on in the real apocalypse: people dying. People’s jobs disappearing. And all of it far worse than it has to be, because the Liar-In-Chief is characterologically incapable of seeing that the way for him to handle this is not by incessantly lying through his fucking teeth, but by telling our country the truth. By putting federal dollars into testing, not by claiming that there are plenty of tests available for everyone, which is manifestly false–all while having himself and his suppôts tested daily, while front-line medical personnel go without. Asshole.
I light my cigarette, and I’m thinking all of that, and I realize: escaping for a little while into the space of an unrealistic apocalypse would feel far better than thinking about the real one…and back into the night I go.
The unrealistic apocalyptic Netflix show to which I am now completely addicted is called Into The Night (Dans la nuit in French). It’s in French, and in a particularly interesting French, because many of the characters are not natively francophone, so they have accents, and that fucks me up totally. For my fellow amerloques, here’s a bit of the vocabulary that I had to look up in the first episode.
The passport control guy in the Brussels airport recognizes one of the main characters, sees that she’s flying to Moscow, and asks her:
- Tu vas mixer ?
- “You spinning there?” (from the English-language subtitles, ’cause I couldn’t find mixer in the dictionary)
- “You DJing there?” (from the British English soundtrack, ’cause see above, plus there’s no American English soundtrack)
- Non, c’est juste une apparition.
- No, it’s just an appearance. (subtitles)
- No, just publicity. (British English soundtrack, and by the way, non-Americans never believe me when I say that Americans don’t necessarily understand spoken British English, but it’s nonetheless true)
One of the characters is buying a last-minute plane ticket, and the clerk says to him:
- Le prix s’élève à 4.235 euros.
- The price comes to 4,235 euros.
- Je prends.
- I’ll take it.
s’élever à: to come to, to amount to. You use these expressions in English primarily when a price has multiple components. So, if you buy a hamburger, and a hamburger costs $5.00, then the kid at the cash register might say: ok, that’s $5.00. But, if you add cheese at $1.00, a slice of tomato at $0.50, and pickles at $0.50 (I have no clue what the actual prices are–who orders a hamburger at a place like that?? Not that I haven’t worked in a couple of ’em), then the clerk might say: ok, that comes to $7.00. When do you use s’élever à in French? I have no idea–Phil d’Ange?
Here one of the characters–a Flemish dude with heavily accented French, so I don’t know how correct this is–sees people boarding the plane before him, and says the following. What I didn’t know the meaning of was ça, alors !
- Oh, on peut monter avant les premières classes ? Ça, alors !
- I didn’t think anyone got to board before first class. (subtitles)
- Looks like some people are better than first class. You know? Huh? Huh? (British English soundtrack)
WordReference gives a number of meanings for it, all of which are expressions of surprise. Of them, the best translation for this case is probably well, I never! …which would typically have some connotations of a disagreeable surprise. Like, someone does something totally rude to you, or tells you a story about something shitty that someone did to them–Trump’s replacement for his original Attorney General just had the charges dropped against a guy who had already pled guilty twice of lying to the FBI about his interactions with the Russians during the transition. –Well, I never! Of course, that conversation implies that an American exists who can still be shocked by Trump’s betrayals of America…
…and I put out my cigarette, and back to Episode 5 I go.
Conflict of interest statement: I don’t have any conflicts of interest. I pay for my monthly Netflix subscription just like everybody else, and the tobacco industry sure as hell isn’t giving me any freebies.