In a Christmas Carol’s third chapter, wherein the Ghost of Christmas Present, a towering incarnation of Yuletide jollity, guides Scrooge through the homes and streets of various people that the miser knows, but does not know his impact upon, he comes across the humble house of Robert Cratchit and his family, who are currently preparing the Christmas feast.

Mrs. Cratchitt is less than enthused, when Bob proclaims a toast to Scroogel, the very “founder of the feast” and remarks:

The Founder of the Feast indeed!” cried Mrs. Cratchit, reddening. “I wish I had him here. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he’d have a good appetite for it.”

Within these few lines we get one element that would be rather tricky to translate into another language due to its double nature as a culinary pun and as a remark of censure.

Koutou Nakajima (1920):


Atashi wa ano oyaji wo koko he tsurete kite, gochisou ni wa, omou zonbun kogoto wo kuwashite yaritai to omoimasu yo. Hara demo herashitekiyaagare.

When that oldster comes along to our house, I’ll make sure to make him devour a few words of feast. May he bloody well starve!”

The “bloody well starve” part is a translation of the vulgar command yagare from yagaru, which in its function is to turn a verb into an imprecatory one for the action of someone else, or put it plainly “you/he/she/they fucking/damn does”. Furthermore she says oyaji, but the term uses the non-standard spelling of the kanji “rouya” (oldster), which is decidedly disrespectful towards Bob’s using Sukuruuji-san previously. She uses “atashi” to refer to herself, a more informal mode of watashi, thus marking her speech as extremely informal and angry.

The part marking the mental feast, is literally using the termgochisou (feast/treat), which is used commonly in the polite Japanese expression gochisousama (ご馳走様), when thanking for the meal that you have had.

If we take a look of the most interesting of Japanese translations spanning 1902 to 2011, we see a varying degree of not just adapting the pun, but also the severity of how Mrs. Cratchitt talks.

Turning back the Christmas clock, one of the earliest translations comes to us through Souji Kusano (1902):


Watashi wa anokata wo koko ni oyobimoushite watashi no nigatsukimo wo ippen gochishou te nametemesaseteyaritai. Soshite sore wo takusan meshiagatte idatakitai!

"I would like to most humbly summon him hither and have him sample on some of my bitterness! Then, there will be ample to feast upon for him!"

苦つ膽 here is an obscure term originating in traditional Chinese medicine, literally meaning "bitter liver/innards", but can also refer to bitterness, agony or pain in general - this being the proverbial "peace of mind" that Scrooge can feast upon. She is also notably more polite in this version, using oyobimousu "to humbly summon", and meshiagaru "the gentleman/madam drinks/eats". Hence she increases the politeness to an extreme degree if just to mock Scrooge being the "Founder of the Feast."