Friday 25 September 2009

The Town Hotel

It was reported last month that an unidentified British tourist in a small French town got locked in when she assumed the sign outside the Hôtel de Ville (town hall, at least in some places, Mairie in others) meant it was a hotel. Probably not such a stupid mistake as all that, it must happen from time to time. She wrote the following message asking for help:

Je suis fermer ici
( Toilettes).
Est ce possible
moi la porte en ouvrir ?

You have to be cautious about tall tales and urban myths retailed with a straight face in our careless and credulous media, but here’s one for which there seems to be some tantalising photographic evidence. The BBC still managed to misquote the tourist’s message, but hey what’s new.

The story has even spawned its own little website, whence I lift this intriguing pic (right), perhaps a screenshot from television news?? It comes complete with an amusing piece of machine “translation” (“The tourist for its continuous, but think of other clients of the institution ... Time passes and people seem to sulk the square in front of City Hall ... A shot of fear for some poor woman who has certainly enriched his vocabulary” etc).

I’m still not 100% convinced though. There’s something about the handwriting that just isn’t quite what you’d expect from a Brit in her early thirties. And I wonder why an English speaker whose French was not great would think to chuck in that en (presumably “to open the door of it”). And what on earth is the verb doing at the end like that? Was this tourist actually German or Dutch, by any chance?

No comments:

Post a Comment