ProZ.com global directory of translation services
 The translation workplace
Ideas
KudoZ home » French to English » History

morbleu!

English translation: in God's name

Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs
(or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.
20:58 Jun 13, 2010
French to English translations [PRO]
History / 13th century interjection
French term or phrase: morbleu!
Que l'on prépare mon cheval, morbleu!

Said by an impatient nobleman. Am looking for a 13th century equivalent in English. Dictionary gives "zounds!" or "gadzooks!". Can anyone confirm? No Chaucer on my bookshelf!
Gabrielle Leyden
Local time: 08:57
English translation:in God's name
Explanation:
Further to my Discussion entry above and further research and reflection:

The article on juron et blasphème here :
http://revistas.ucm.es/fll/11399368/articulos/THEL0303220171...

seems to suggest, from what I read briefly, that early texts did not record bad language, even if it was spoken. There is reference in La Chanson de Roland, for example, to a Saracen "badmouthing" (saying mauvais mots in respect of Charlemagne, "the right hand of God"), for which the divine punishment was death (in battle), but the words themselves are not written down.

Quite possibly people DID use morbleu or zounds before they were first recorded, only no one was game to put it on record ...

Also, if we assume the Protestant way started to come into effect only after the death of Henry VIII in 1547, the euphemism "Zounds" may have been felt necessary only around then. Maybe previously they were perfectly happy to say "God's wounds" without fear of lightning bolts. I mean, we only say "Shhhhh-ugar!" or "Mmmmm-ince!" because we are thinking of the words we might otherwise say. So "Zounds" must have been a substitute for something that had been or could be said.

Go for "Get me my charger, in God's name!" (which, assuming the speaker is on the side of God, would not be insult or blasphemy, merely an invocation to act for the good of the Almighty).
Selected response from:

xxxBourth
Local time: 08:57
Grading comment
I didn't use your proposed translation (and I think something stronger than "in God's name" would be necessary), but all the explanations definitely helped!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
3 +5godzounds!
Rachel Fell
5Godzooks!Barbara Cochran
4 +1in God's namexxxBourth
3 +1Lord Sake
Verginia Ophof
4The Devil!
Gad Kohenov
3 -1idflorent40


Discussion entries: 8





  

Answers


8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Lord Sake


Explanation:
According to "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable"...

Blue murder. To scream or shout blue murder. Indicative of terror and alarm rather than real danger. It appears to be a play on the French expression "morbleu".

"Morbleu" is an obsolete curse. "Mor" is derived from "mort", death. The expression "morbleu" literally means "blue death". The word "blue" ("bleu") is used as a substitute for the word "God" ("dieu") in some French-language curses. For example, the expression "sacr� bleu", which remains in common use, literally means "sacred blue". It is more accurately rendered as "God damn".

I have never understood the connection between the colour blue ("bleu") and the sanctity of God (e.g., "sacr� bleu" in place of "sacr� dieu"). Perhaps it is no more complicated than the fact that "bleu" rhymes with "dieu".

In English, we find that the word "Heck" replaces "Hell" in curses and "Land sakes" replaces "Lord sakes" or "For the sake of the Lord".




    Reference: http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/54788
Verginia Ophof
Belize
Local time: 00:57
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: English

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  1045
18 mins
  -> Why Thank you 1045 !!!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): -1
id


Explanation:
just to told you what i know, the blue is the color of the noble and the king, we said that he s got blue blood, means he is from noble family. So maybe the link between blue and god is there, the king was choose by god in old meaning. Hope you can understand what i said. Florent

florent40
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:57
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Hermeneutica: With your entry *as an answer to the question* [how can "id" be the answer?] but you are completely right about the royal-divine connection and the colour blue. Post this as a "Discussion entry" perhaps?
6 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
in God's name


Explanation:
Further to my Discussion entry above and further research and reflection:

The article on juron et blasphème here :
http://revistas.ucm.es/fll/11399368/articulos/THEL0303220171...

seems to suggest, from what I read briefly, that early texts did not record bad language, even if it was spoken. There is reference in La Chanson de Roland, for example, to a Saracen "badmouthing" (saying mauvais mots in respect of Charlemagne, "the right hand of God"), for which the divine punishment was death (in battle), but the words themselves are not written down.

Quite possibly people DID use morbleu or zounds before they were first recorded, only no one was game to put it on record ...

Also, if we assume the Protestant way started to come into effect only after the death of Henry VIII in 1547, the euphemism "Zounds" may have been felt necessary only around then. Maybe previously they were perfectly happy to say "God's wounds" without fear of lightning bolts. I mean, we only say "Shhhhh-ugar!" or "Mmmmm-ince!" because we are thinking of the words we might otherwise say. So "Zounds" must have been a substitute for something that had been or could be said.

Go for "Get me my charger, in God's name!" (which, assuming the speaker is on the side of God, would not be insult or blasphemy, merely an invocation to act for the good of the Almighty).


xxxBourth
Local time: 08:57
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 154
Grading comment
I didn't use your proposed translation (and I think something stronger than "in God's name" would be necessary), but all the explanations definitely helped!
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks! No time to finish The Canterbury Tales (ME + modern English translation), and I'm sure that a lot of the old expletives just weren't written down, at least not in texts that one can access easily today!


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Rachel Fell: indeed - and agree about the non-insult/blasphemy
10 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 day1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
Godzooks!


Explanation:
Much more common than "godzounds."

Barbara Cochran
Local time: 02:57
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks! Gadzooks or begad were tempting.

Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +5
godzounds!


Explanation:
Came to mind...

Both sitter and artist were unhappy long before it was finished. Pearson Wright said he would have needed at least 12 sittings, but was refused any more time. Lucian Freud had a similar problem with his Jubilee portrait of the Queen.

At the end of the first sitting the prince inspected the work and exclaimed "godzooks" or "godzounds", the artist was too alarmed to remember which.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/jul/25/monarchy.arts

...'Why, you old cuckold, blind cuckold,
can't you very well see?
These are three milking-cows,
my mother sent O me.'
'Heyday! Godzounds! Milking-cows with bridles and saddles on!
the like was never known!'...

...They are three roasting-spits,
my mother sent to me.'
'Heyday! Godzounds! Roasting spits with scabbards on!
the like was never known!'
[hm - chiild's ballad? There's a trad. Irish song that sounds like this story]
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Child's_Ballads/274

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 hrs (2010-06-14 09:16:45 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

thought I'd added these further refs. already, but anyway, here are some earlier terms:

by my soul
so God help me
for God's bones (though that may only be 14th C - Chaucer)

"The Vision of William concerning Pers the Plouhmon," written by Langland in the reign of Edward III., and commonly called "Piers Plowman," shows us that the English of that period thought it necessary to interlard their statements with copious expletives:

I have no peny, quod Pers, poletes to bugg (pullets to buy},
And I sigg (say), bi my soule, I have no salt bacon,
Ne no cokeneyes (fowles), bi Crist colopes to maken.

Passus VI.

And Glutton confesses [Passus V.]:

That I have trespassed with my tonge, I can noughte tell how oft,
Sworen Goddes soule, and so God me help, and Halidom,
There no need ne was, nyne hundreth tymes.


http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Some_English_Expletives

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 day1 hr (2010-06-14 22:38:49 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

maybe "God help me", then

Rachel Fell
Local time: 07:57
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 15
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks - "gadzooks" and "begad" were tempting, but given the context I left the 13th-century French and explained it as being more or less equivalent to "blast you!"


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  writeaway
1 hr
  -> Thank you writeaway!

agree  Lianne Wilson
8 hrs
  -> Thank you Lianne!

agree  xxxBourth: "Zounds" is enough for me, being a contraction of "God's wounds", which "godzounds" (which I don't recall ever coming across in my readings of the classics) isn't exactly.
8 hrs
  -> Yes, thanks Bourth, though seems something earlier is needed!

agree  John Detre: this is certainly the right tone but I don't think zounds or any of its variants occurs in Chaucer -- according to the OED, first recorded use of zounds was in 1600 // I'm convinced
9 hrs
  -> Thanks John, good point and thanks for checking - I've added a few earlier terms

agree  EJP
11 hrs
  -> Thank you EJP:-)
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
The Devil!


Explanation:
The Cassell's dictionary.
Zum Teufel! can be the German equivalent.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1514 days (2014-08-06 16:42:38 GMT) Post-grading
--------------------------------------------------

morbleu
(in disuso) da "mort de Dieu", imprecazione usata nel XVII secolo




Gad Kohenov
Israel
Local time: 09:57
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench, Native in HebrewHebrew
PRO pts in category: 2
Notes to answerer
Asker: I did go down the path of "damnation" - thanks!

Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Return to KudoZ list


Changes made by editors
Jun 13, 2010 - Changes made by Liliane Hatem:
Language pairEnglish to French » French to English
Jun 13, 2010 - Changes made by Liliane Hatem:
Language pairFrench to English » English to French


KudoZ™ translation help
The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.



See also: