I almost don't have to tell you by this point: English translated into very bad French in comics is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine. Not only because I'm a francophone myself, but because we live in a Global Village where such resources should be easy to find for writers and artists. Not software resources, HUMAN resources. People who speak and write French. And hey, American comic book people, RIGHT HERE ON YOUR CONTINENT! Alpha Flight has shown that IT'S POSSIBLE to do a language justice, so why don't you want to play the game, Batman and Robin #26?
In this story written by David Hine and drawn by Greg Tocchini, Batman and Robin meet up with France's own Batman, Nightrunner. The Louvre has been turned into an artistic disaster zone the liked of which France hasn't seen since Mr. Nobody and the Brotherhood of Dada ate Paris with a painting. That's all well and good. A problem crops up when Hine introduces Skin Talker, a crazy supervillain whose skin can manifest posthypnotic commands... all in French. If you can call it French.The first dermatographic, for example, strings together three words in a call to orgy. I guess it's not meant to a coherent message, but even in that, it's flawed. "Tuer" and "Manger" are simple enough. "Kill" and "Eat". Of course, if they're commands, they should be in the imperative "Tuez" and "Mangez". So it's really more "To kill" and "To eat", which makes less sense. The third word, "Bisou" is completely ridiculous. It's baby talk for a kiss, most often used to refer to a goodbye kiss on the cheek (like saying "kiss kiss!"), but not a verb. I think the intent is to make the hypnotized victims have sex, as "bisou" comes from "baiser", which (in France especially) is a verb that can mean that as well as "to kiss". How the translation came about is a mystery to me.
Skin Talker's next message is syntactically challenged:
"Fais ce que voudras" is missing a subject there. It means "Do what you want", but there's no "tu" ("you"), and the verb is in the future tense, so he's just telling us to "Do what would be wanted". Whatever that means. The phrase does occur in such works as Dumas' Three Musketeers. It is an archaism that means "Do what you will". What I find strange is that Dick Grayson Batman still knows how to translate it:
"Do what thou wilt"? First of all, French doesn't even have an archaic equivalent to those "Shakespearean" pronouns. If we accept that "Fais ce que voudras" is an archaic/poetic phrase (and it is), why wouldn't Dick translate it into modern English? If I hand him some Latin, does he translate it into Olde English? So it's strange. Doing a little research, the first relevant hit for "Fais ce que voudras" is Celine Dion's 1986 single "Fais ce que tu voudras", which Wikipedia translates as "Do What Thou Wilt" (does she have an English version of the song?). Are we to believe Hine's French comes from Celine Dion songs? And that he still forgot a pronoun? Better to believe he's a Dumas fan... but then I call foul on Dick's spot translation.
Writer David Hine takes me to task in the Comments. Check it out.