I'd like to translate a card from a French board game. In particular, I'm interested about one of the names of the abilities. Now, I'm not a native English speaker, but I'm pretty sure that the official translation is incomplete and too literate:

  • "Humour Noir" was translated to "Black Humour", while I believe the correct phrase would be "Dark Humor".
  • "Facéties de Descendre" was translated to "Descendre Pranks". As far as I know, "Descendre" does not function in English. After basic translation, it would seem that it roughly means "pranks in descend".

French and English Djaul cards

The character itself is a demon that "descends" to fight the mortals.

Now, the game is known for its puns and wordplay. I suspect that the ability name was supposed to sound like "decent pranks" or "indecent pranks", although I'm not sure if it's originally a pun name in French. With that in mind, I have 2 questions:

  • What would be the correct literal translation of the ability name?
  • In your opinion, what would be the best translation in this context to preserve the pun (if there is one)?

I've thought about "Descend Pranks", "In-descend Pranks" or "Pranks in Descend", but I'd like to hear your opinions.

  • The full OED's definition ll 6a for visitation is The action, on the part of God or some supernatural power, of coming to, or exercising power over, a person or people for some end, which I think fits the context of a demon that "descends" to fight the mortals. And there's considerable overlap between powers and rights, so maybe there's a suitable "pun" here based on absent parent] visitation rights. But it is Off Topic POB. Aug 6, 2020 at 16:23
  • 2
    Lowdown pranks....though facéties is not really pranks at all.You might try Low Jinks, the opposite of high jinks..
    – Lambie
    Aug 8, 2020 at 14:44
  • I’m voting to close this question because it asks for translation of a French fixed phrase. Dec 23, 2020 at 20:33

3 Answers 3


Black humour is the dictionary version (e.g. Cambridge) of humour noir. The link to Wikipedia's article on Black Comedy in LPH's answer gives the origin of the term.

As for "Facéties de Descendre", I'd suggest using a play on the word 'low'. 'Low' usually refers to height, which would tie in with 'descending'. It can also mean 'not honest or unfair', which works well as an adjective to describe a prank or trick.

"Low pranks" would indicate pranks which are unscrupulous or dishonest.

"Low cunning" or "Low trickery" would be slightly more commonplace phrases indicating dishonest deceit in general.


There is no pun involving "descendre" and "decent"; it is so far fetched as to be sound very dull.

1/ The traditional term is "black humour" (ref. 1) and "dark humor" is a relatively recent synonym (ref. 2).

The Wiktionary (ref. 3) does not list "dark humor" but only "black humor" for which the synonym chosen is "black comedy". However, a distinction is made between "black humour" and "gallows humour"; that latter term is not to be confused as a synonym of "black humour", on the contrary of what is claimed in Wikipedia (see ref. 1).

  • Black comedy, also known as black humour, dark humor, dark comedy, morbid humor, or gallows humor, is a style of comedy that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or painful to discuss.

2/ The basic idea seems to be concerned with a matter of level and that is what the word "descendre" (to descend) implies, a change in the level from a given point to one situated lower. However, "descendre" also has the meaning "bring down by means of a blow", "kill", and as a fight is being talked about in the card one might wonder whether there couldn't be innuendos concerning that. More knowledge about the game is needed. Nevertheless, for a translation near the plain meaning I'd chose "descending" and not "descend": neither "descend pranks" nor "in descend pranks" is correct English.

  • Descending pranks
  • Interesting. Does it mean that "Killing Pranks" would also be a viable translation? Am I understanding this correctly that in French it can be interpreted both as "pranks in descend" as well as "killing pranks"/"pranks that kill"? As for the context, I believe this character is a demon that "descends" to fight with the mortals, which might make sense given the ability name. The game itself is a typical tactical skirmish game that involves fighting, but the ability can be considered defensive rather than offensive.
    – Czyzby
    Aug 6, 2020 at 9:35
  • @Czyzby A context is needed for that and there is nothing from the sole card that allows you to come to this conclusion. In the right context, yes, "descendre" does mean "to knock out" or "to killl". Notice that there is only a question of level: "At the beginning of the fight Djaul becomes level zero until the end of the fight."; that should be explained as it is not self-explanatory.
    – LPH
    Aug 6, 2020 at 9:50
  • Yes, "descending" can also refer to the ability effect - effective character level is lowered from 1 to 0. Character level is the number you can see in the upper right corner and basically it translates to how many victory points you get for knocking out that character in game. Since Djaul's level is lowered to 0, you effectively get no points for knocking him out.
    – Czyzby
    Aug 6, 2020 at 9:54
  • @Czyzby I see, the "ability" grants some sort of immunity, wherefrom its defensive nature. I still wouldn't rush into concluding that there is a pun.
    – LPH
    Aug 6, 2020 at 10:02

Just for the record, I came to the conclusion that "It's a Prank!" would also be a viable name for the ability. It's not a literal translation by any means, but I believe it fits the theme pretty well.

While both "Descending Pranks" and "Low Pranks" would be closer to the original meaning, I think they don't fit the overall humorous tone of the game as well.

  • 2
    Low Jinks: Do you know the word high jinks? merriam-webster.com/dictionary/high%20jinks I think I am the only actual translator here. descending and low sound terrible. So does "It's a prank". Sorry but as I do this for a living, I set the bar very high, especially for these game things.
    – Lambie
    Aug 8, 2020 at 14:46
  • I wasn't aware of this expression (again, not a native speaker). "It's a prank" might be a poor translation and it's probably not up to anyone's standards, but since it's just a cheesy reference to a meme, I might just go with it.
    – Czyzby
    Aug 8, 2020 at 15:33
  • I asked you if are you familiar with the term hi-jinks? Because here facéties can be jinks and descendre can be described as low. In this case (and I don't often say this about my own translation), you can't imagine how good my "find" is.
    – Lambie
    Aug 8, 2020 at 15:53
  • That's what I meant, I wasn't familiar with it. Anyway, let me just say why I asked the question in the first place. Another version of the game was released, this time with incompatible cards. I'd like to convert some of the older characters to the updated rules. Normally I try to use the original names whenever possible, but something about "Descendre" sounded wrong. Ideally, I'd like to keep the word "prank" to stay pretty close to the original (incomplete) translation, but both "descending" and "low" don't seem to fit the game very well, if that makes any sense.
    – Czyzby
    Aug 8, 2020 at 16:03
  • "Low jinks" might be true to the original French sentence, but it sounds completely different than the current English translation, however bad it may be. I might as well just choose a different name that fits the corresponding ability effect. (And since it's an active ability, not a passive one like in the previous version of the game, neither plural "pranks" or "jinks" don't really fit it all that much.)
    – Czyzby
    Aug 8, 2020 at 16:08

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