October 10, 1954
UPDATE: A French reader wrote in with the translation AND interesting explanation below. This is all terrific information so thank you so much to my submitter, you are lovely!!
The postmark on this letter is hard to read and I didn't notice she had dated the letter itself until now. So this is a bit out of the chronological order but to avoid confusion I will leave the order as is.
We have come to our first letter in French, sent from Gigi. Gigi is French (as you can guess I suppose) and from Orleans. I suppose this means that Dick could speak and read French though who knows if he learned it before he shipped out or while he was living there.
I have had several people offer to translate these French letters - if anyone wants to handle it, you can send the translation to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org (I will post your translation with whatever credit you prefer or anonymously.) Thanks!
Orléans, the 10th of octobre, 1954
I've not received any news from you. That worries me because I gave the lettre I wrote you to a woman who works there and she gave it to a collegue/colonel*. I know you don't think about me anymore because I went to the postoffice every third day. If I don't get a letter this week, evertything will be over between us because I think of you every day. I'm not currently working and you poor Baby are still in Maisons-Alfort**. As we are far from each other we cannot talk, or only on Saturdays, or if you have a free pass (leave, I think). Here the weather is bad, it's raining (litt: it's falling water). At home, I have lit the fireplace as it's chilly. Tonight I'm going to the theater to see "La Belle de Cadix"***, I'll be thinking of you, poor thing (sic). I'll go and ask Claude to bring you this letter. How is Joseph? Tell him I say hello. I'm closing this little chat by kissing you with all my heart (classic French expression).
Send a little letter soon.
Good wishes (litt: Good memories)
Underlined words as in the original
Italic words: in English in the text
*The word she used (collegné, I think) does not exist. Its spelling is close to "collègue" (=collegue) but read out loud it sounds rather like "colonel", which would make sense.
**She wrote "maisons fort" (=stronghold, fort) but in context I think it's the city of Maisons-Alfort, in South-East of Paris, which had (and has) an active Fort and garrison (the name actually means "houses with a Fort")
***"The Beauty of Cadiz" is a operetta created in 1945 but she's probably refering to the 1953 movie version as the operetta doesn't seem to have been in production during that period.
General translation notes:
If this traslation seems weird and disjointed, it's mainly because the original text is! It's riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. There is virtually no valid punctuation (not one dot!), very few, and often nonsensical, transition words and no understanding of the masculine/feminine differenciation in French (everything is feminine). All in all, this is as much an interpretation as a translation. I think Gigi either didn't have much formal education or she wasn't French after all! While the first is possible, I'm partial to the second; here's why:
1) Gigi obviously knows to write so she went to school a minimum. In France, she would certainly would have to learn spell "bonjour" (hello)! (and to use accentutated letters) Also her writing is not the formated letters you learned then doing lines so she is used to write which would indicate some formal education and use of it, which I don't see as compatible with the basic mistakes seen in this letter.
2) Sense is most easily made from this letter by reading it out loud which, coupled with the general format, makes me think it's often "written as you speak". That is a classic when you are better at speaking a language than writting it. In particular, some words are written in two pieces, when I feel a French person would have known it is only one word. Also there is much confusion between fais(do)/vais(go)/sais(know) (they're all written fais, which does not help the comprehension!), mistakes I feel a French native would not make.
3) Finally (and maybe more importantly), idiomatic expressions are misused, incomplete or lacking ("it's falling water" does not exist in French) indicating some unfamiliarity with the language.
In conclusion, I think French is not Gigi's first language. However she's probably been practicing for some time because some unintuitive words are used/spelled correctly and she has corrected herself in a few places, which shows understanding of grammar. There was a lot of immigration in France during and after the war, eg from Spain, Italy, Maghreb or Indochina, so that's historically possible.