Level of language in Disney Comics

François Willot willot.francois at ec-lille.fr
Mon Feb 25 16:19:03 CET 2002

In some books published in France, like the Gottfredson hommage books "l'âge
d'or" (the same series exists in Italy and probably other countries),
Mickey's slang language has been more or less restored but otherwise, in
most French Disney comics, language has always been a perfectly correct one.
That does not mean however that the language is spoken like if it would come
from "the mouth of a college professor in linguistics and grammar". It is
correct but it also is a very simple language, which is one of the hardest
thing for an author to do. The texts of Maupassant look all so simple, but
just *try* to write like him.

I think I would have a hard time if I were to translate Gottfredson's or
Barks' slang language in French. Words like "gonna" or expressions like "I
don't" aren't correct AFAIK, and I would not know how to reproduce it,
except for using familiar but still correct language. That's what the
translators of "l'âge d'or" did. Or, for your information, the publisher
Zenda which tried to reprint the complete set of Carl Barks stories in
Of course there is a spoken language, different from the writing one. But
that language is seldom used in print. Celine did it, but in a Disney comic,
that would just look very strange. I think I prefer it the way it is.

But - it seems to me that this American slang language we're talking about
was mostly used in the 30s Mickey strips or in 50s comic books, and much
less after and that the Americans are more politically correct than they


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