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§ 45. We cannot translate NEARLY and ALMOST indif. ferently by PRESQUE and PRÈS DE; the first modifies an adjective, another adverb, or a participle, as : nous sommes PRESQUE rouges de colère, we are nearly red with anger; le palais est PRESQUE brûlé, the palace is ALMOST burnt; mon frère lisait PRESQUE élégamment, my brother read ALMOST elegantly; the second is only used before a numeral, as : nous avons acheté PRÈS DE deux cents chevaux, we have bouyht NEARLY two hundred horses.
$ 46. MAINTENANT, now, is only employed in French with the present tense, but when used in English with a past tense we must employ ALORS, or À PRÉSENT, as : He had been walking a long time, and now began to feel very tired, must be translated Il s'était promené longtemps et ALORS commençait à se sentir très-fatigué.
§ 47. In writing in any language we must pay particular attention to express clearly and distinctly what we wish to state, and to avoid ambiguity. Without entering into minute details, let us simply state that the shorter the sentence the more chance there is that the pupil may express what he wishes to say.
§ 48. As the relative pronouns qui and que, who, which (see THIRD FRENCH Book, $ $ 161–166), refer to persons as well as to things, and have neither gender or number, the meaning of the English WHICH, Who, may sometimes present some difficulty in rendering it in French. If we translate the sentence, There are many facts mentioned in our chronicles WHICH are beyond all likelihood, and if we write, Il y a beaucoup de faits dans nos chroniques qui sont hors de toute vraisemblance, the phrase would be obscure, because qui may refer to chronique as well as to faits. It is therefore better to change the order of the words, and to place the pronoun nearer to its antecedent, thus : Il y a dans nos chroniques beaucoup de FAITS QUI sont hors de toute vraisemblance.
§ 49. When the use of QUI, QUE, DONT, can give rise to ambiguity, we must sometimes employ LEQUEL, LAQUELLE, in order to make the meaning clearer, as : la femme de votre oncle, qui est très-charitable, a adopté cet orphelin. Qui may relate here to femme and to oncle ; it is therefore much clearer to write la femme de votre oncle, LAQUELLE est très-charitable, &c. Sometimes we have to repeat the antecedent substantive itself in order to be distinct, as : le Prétendant ne songea qu'à profiter de cette première ARDEUR de sa faction, ARDEUR qu'il ne fallait pas laisser ralentir; the Pretender only thought to profit of this first ardour of his party, which ought not to have been slackened.
$ 50. Euphony is, according to Webster, “an easy, smooth enunciation of sounds, or a pronunciation of letters and syllables which is pleasing to the ear." In order to avoid discordant sounds it is above all things necessary to use either a circumlocution or sometimes a synonym, for in French the greatest attention is paid to euphony. If, for example, we wish to translate the simple phrase, I have eaten last Christmas a slice of a plump turkey, we cannot render this literally j'ai mangé Noël dernier une tranche d'une DINDE DODUE. The sound d'une dinde dodue is very disagreeable; we therefore better say, d'une dinde qui était très-dodue, or with a circumlocution d'une dinde où il y avait de quoi manger, literally of a turkey on which there was plenty to eat.
§ 51. It is also better not to repeat pour twice if it can be avoided; for example, we came in town to buy a bracelet FOR the bride, ought not to be translated, nous sommes venus en ville POUR acheter un bracelet POUR la fiancée, but nous sommes venus en ville AFIN D'acheter un bracelet POUR la fiancée.
§ 52. We also give a few examples of reduplication of sounds which should be carefully avoided, by modifying the construction of the sentence :
1. Il vint en ville à peu près une heure après nous
He came to town about an hour after us
2. Nous allâmes à Anvers
We went to Antwerp 3. Il a été très-têtu
He has been very obstinate 4. Voilà un artiste qui, quoiqu'il croie qu'il est grand peintre, ne
sera jamais connu There is an artist who, though he believes himself a great
painter, will never be known 5. Ma main sera donnée demain
My hand will be given away to-morrow 6. Les bons bonbons que ma bonne m'a donnés
The good sweetmeats my nurse has given me 7. Ta tante est toute tremblante
Thy aunt is quite trembling 8. On offre de l'or à l'orphelin
They offer gold to the orphan
§ 53. For the sake of euphony we also suppress the adverb
y before the future of the verb aller, and instead
of saying j'y irai, I will go there, we only use j'irai. But when verbs of the first conjugation are employed in the second person singular of the imperative mood, a euphonic s is used, as vas-y, go there ; parles-en, speak of it ; ra-y, parle-en would be wrong.
VII.-OF IDIOMATIC PHRASES.
§ 54. The value of the expression and the construction adopted by the English author should always be observed; but the genius of the French language must not be sinned against. Every language has its own features, which depend on the peculiarities, origin, and habits of a
as well as on their different views, feelings, and ways of expression. Thus spring up untranslatable forms, arising from a complex association of several of these causes, and deviating from general and common rules so completely that they can only be translated by equivalents. These forms, which often defy analysis, and against which the translator would struggle in vain, are called Idioms. They are very numerous in English, and it would be impossible to give a complete list of them; but students can find them in dictionaries, and above all by perusing the best writers. We cannot conclude without giving a certain number of Idioms, with their translation, so that the importance and difficulty of this particular subject may be better understood :
1. He was by himself.
Il était seul
2. It is all over
C'en est fait
3. We should do it but for hurting him
Nous le ferions si nous ne craignions de le blesser
4. It happened three years ago
Cela est arrivé il y a trois ans
5. It is five years since
Il y a cinq ans de cela
6. What will become of me?
Que deviendrai-je ?
7. She was wet through
Elle fut mouillée jusqu'aux os 8. I was looking for you
Je vous cherchais 9. He sent for you
Il vous a envoyé chercher 10. He is in my debt for six pounds
Il me doit six livres
11. I put out the candle
Je souffle la chandelle
12. The fire is going out
Le feu va s'éteindre
13. I must leave you
Il faut que je vous quitte 14. She is twelve
Elle a douze ans
15. What o'clock is it by your watch?
Quelle heure est-il à votre montre ?
16. It is seven minutes past five
Il est cinq heures sept minutes 17. It is eight minutes to four
Il est quatre heures moins huit minutes 18. They are all one with me
Ils sont tous du même sentiment que moi