Le retour des hiéroglyphes

From a recent chain of postings on Facebook, a 1/9/14 Bizarro strip rendered en français:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

Il faut mettre l’œil avant le scarabée, sauf si le participe passé est placé devant le serpent. (more or less literally) ‘It is necessary to put the eye before the beetle, except if the past participle is placed in front of the snake.’

(It came to me from Susan Fischer, who got it from the Facebook group Improbables Librairies, Improbables Bibliothèques, which — predictably, I suppose — tells us nothing about who did the translation.)

The English original, which I posted about on 1/9/14 in “Early writing in the comics”:

(#2) Piraro’s hieroglyphic version of “It’s I before E, except after C”: It’s eye [the 2nd glyph] before flea [the 1st glyph, an insect], except after sea [the 3rd glyph, water]

It turns out that the 2014 version re-uses the artwork from an even earlier Bizarro:

(#3) (I see only two Bizarro symbols in this one; the speech balloons cover space where two of the Bizarro symbols are placed in #1/#2)

The 1st glyph in this version is a bird (maybe a falcon) rather than an insect as in #1/#2; the 2nd row 2nd glyph is a flower rather than the Bizarro eye symbol as in #1/#2; otherwise the glyphs are as in #1/#2:

… – 2  eye – 3 wiggly line [actually, water] – 4 beetle

1 goose – … – 3 lump [actually, loaf of bread] – 4 bird [of some kind] – 5 snake

(except that two partial glyphs at the right edge of #1/#2 have been erased).

Re-use, recycle.

Bonuses. Piraro has turned to hieroglyphic writing for humor on at least two other occasions.

In my 2/16/17 posting “Emoji are the hieroglyphs of the future”:

(#4) The Bizarro of 2/16/17, with 4 Bizarro symbols (plus an emoji and some hieroglyphs) — basically the same artwork as in #1-#3, but  reversed

Another bash at the hieroglyph-emoji relationship. For discussion, see my 10/28/16 posting “Emoji days” (with two cartoons on the subject), where I note that emoji are primaily ideographic / pictographic, while hieroglyphs are primarily linguistic (representing specific words or phonological material).

And then some totally different artwork:

(#5) From 10/22/12 (with 5 Bizarro symbols in it)

From Wikipedia:

A spelling bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words, usually with a varying degree of difficulty. The concept is thought to have originated in the United States, and spelling bee events, along with variants, are now also held in some other countries around the world. The first winner of an official spelling bee was Frank Neuhauser, who won the 1st National Spelling Bee (now known as the Scripps National Spelling Bee) in Washington, D.C. in 1925 at age eleven.

There’s a conventional format for these events. In part, as illustrated above: the contestant is given a word by the moderator, and can ask the moderator for a definition. Then proceeds by pronouncing the word (signalling the beginning of the spelling), spelling it out loud (pronouncing the names of the letters in it, in order), and then pronouncing the whole word again (signalling the end of the spelling).


4 Responses to “Le retour des hiéroglyphes”

  1. Gary Says:

    Sauf si le participe passe est place devant le serpent refers to this:

    “when the direct object comes before the past participle, the past participle actually agrees with that direct object. So for example:

    Voici les cadeaux que les filles ont achetés
    Here are the presents that the girls have bought ”


    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I opted not to include this fact in my posting, which already ranged over lots of stuff (and took me 10 hours to assemble), but it is in fact crucial to a full understanding of the French version in #1, so thank you for adding it.

      • Gary Says:

        I posted because I felt a need to show off, after figuring it out using half-remembered grammar and a lot of google.. I didn’t think I was telling you anything new.

  2. Bob Richmond Says:

    This strikes me immensely funny – as, an 80 year old retired physician, I cram a word list to defend my title – the third year running – of adult spelling bee champ at the Blount County public library (pronounced blunt) – south of Knoxville in east Tennessee.

    Researching this a bit, I learn that spelling bees exist only in English, with our godawful orthography. The French do somewhat similar exercises, with exact transcription of a dictated text, and the Chinese, with look-up in a Chinese dictionary. But the spelling bee is a US English phenomenon.

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