This is the first sentence of one of the most famous phrases in French literature due to the ambiguity of the temporal reference.
Here are some other translations that can also be found online.
- Gilbert’s 1946 translation is: “Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The telegram from the Home says: YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday.”
- Laredo’s 1982 translation is: “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know. I had a telegram from the home: ‘Mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Yours sincerely.’ That doesn’t mean anything. It may have been yesterday.”
- Ward’s 1988 translation is: “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours. That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” [Maman is informal French for the informal EnglishMum/Mam/Mom; a strict translation of the opening line is “Today, mom died.”]
|Camus, Albert. L’étranger. Collection Folio 2. Paris: Gallimard, 2008. Print.
Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas. J’ai reçu un télégramme de l’asile : « Mère décédée. Enterrement demain. Sentiments distingues. » Cela ne veut rien dire. C’était peut-être hier. (p.9)
|Camus, Albert, and Matthew Ward. The Stranger. New York: Vintage International, 1989. Print.
Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home : “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday. (p.3)
|Camus, Albert. Etranje! Trans. Régis, Guy. Koleksyon Souf Nouvo. Haïti: Edisyon Près Nasyonal d’Ayiti, 2008. Print.
Manman mwen mouri jodi a. Se dwe yè pito. Mwen pa konnen. Mwen resevwa yon telegram Azil la : « Mère décédée. Enterrement demain. Sentiments distingués. » Bagay sa pa vle di anyen. Siman se yè vrèman.
What is most interesting in the Haitian translation is that the French was still retained.