View Full Version : A Phantom of the Opera question

Son of a Rich
11-10-2010, 01:29 PM
I've been reading Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera and am stumped by a passage that I'm guessing is a tramslation of a French pun. The Persian, an acquittance of Eric, had previously made Eric promise to forgo any more murders. When reminded of the promise Eric says: "Oaths are made to catch gulls with".
Is that a pun or a maybe a punch line for an ancient joke?
BTW, PotO is a pretty fun read.

11-10-2010, 01:57 PM
Perhaps "gull" in the meaning of "gullible", someone who's easily fooled?

11-10-2010, 03:38 PM
Yes, Shakespeare used "gull" to mean "fool", more or less: http://shakespeare.mit.edu/henryv/henryv.3.6.html

Gary Robson
11-10-2010, 04:45 PM
Moved from GQ to Cafe Society, where book-related questions tend to get good answers.

11-10-2010, 04:50 PM
Perhaps "gull" in the meaning of "gullible", someone who's easily fooled?

But would the pun work in French?

11-10-2010, 05:21 PM
It's not a pun, it's just slang. I have no idea how the line was rendered in French, though.

11-10-2010, 05:31 PM
But would the pun work in French?

"Gulls" isn't in the French. The original French text reads

Les serments sont faits pour attraper les nigauds

which translates to "Oaths are made to catch simpletons". Whoever translated it to English used the gulls thing, so I'm guessing it's not meant to be a pun.

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