I’ve always found that one of the best ways to learn something is to make it relevant to your life and interests.
In my case, I’ve always had a fascination with American politics, especially around election time, when international coverage picks up. And now that I’m at a level where I can understand most French news, I’m so thrilled to be able to read what francophones have to say about the political goings-on stateside. (And you’d better believe the French have a lot to say about American politics!)
The Democrats had their first debate the other day, and I was particularly interested in how the French would translate Bernie Sanders’ epic quote about Hillary Clinton’s emails. This was one rendition:
« Le peuple américain en a ras le bol d’entendre parler de vos fichus emails! »
Now, let’s examine some of the components of that now-famous line:
En avoir ras le bol – to be sick and tired. (Literally, “to have it to the brim of the bowl.”)
Alternatively, one could use en avoir marre, as some media did. (En avoir assez didn’t seem to accurately capture the frustration.)
Interestingly, these are fixed expressions, which means the adverbial pronoun en (“of it”) remains, even if you then specify what the person is sick and tired of. J’en ai ras le bol de tes bêtises. “I’ve had it up to here with it, with your foolishness.” Weird, redundant, but correct.
Entendre parler de quelque chose – to hear about/of something.
Another useful expression is entendre dire, which is effectively a synonym of entendre parler. The difference is in the grammar:
On entend parler de quelque chose.
Mais on entend dire quelque chose.
Ou on entend dire que… (+ proposition).
Fichu – (informal adjective) damn
Clinton’s emails were also referred to as maudits, satanés, and foutus – a good range of synonyms!
E(-)mail – email
Yeah, I know. But I’m bringing this up because the unassuming “email” could be a whole subject in the study of francophone-anglophone relations. Now, I won’t go into detail, but it would be remiss of me not to point out that you will also hear un mail very often, as my friend I Say Oui mentioned in the comments below.
Officially, it’s un courriel (short for courrier électronique), but you’ll find that the French rarely use that word. On the other side of the pond, however, this is the preferred name. In fact, the French Canadians invented it. So it goes without saying that the French-Canadian media translated “your damn emails” as « vos fichus courriels. » Ah, vive la Francophonie!
Et vive le français!