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instantly to the mind the nouns which they represent. If we write, for example, Les modernes sont supérieurs aux anciens dans tout ce qu'ils ont écrit sur l'histoire naturelle, the pronoun ils representing les modernes as well as les anciens, it may be doubted whether we mean that the moderns are superior to the ancients in all that the ancients have written, or, in all that the moderns themselves have written on natural history. To express the idea that it is the MODERNS who are superior, we must simply connect the personal pronoun ils with les modernes, and say, Les modernes, dans tout ce qu'ils ont écrit sur l'histoire naturelle, sont supérieurs aux anciens. § 49. When it is not possible to displace the pronoun
in order to bring it nearer to the noun it represents, the noun itself must be repeated. This difficulty will often present itself when we meet a construction in which the pronoun it is by chance found by the side of a masculine noun. An ambiguity, which is not possible in English on account of the difference of the pronouns he and it, appears instantly in the French, where there is only the word il to express both. Let us suppose that we have the following sentence :
Philip heard a noise in the distance, and listened to it attentively. As it approached nearer, he distinguished the merry voices of his companions.
If wc translate the two pronouns it and he simply by the French pronoun il, this phrase will be very obscure.
Philippe entendit un bruit dans le lointain et prêta une oreille attentive. Comme il approchait, il distingua les voix joyeuses de ses compagnons.
In fact we could not tell whether it were the noise or Philip that approached. The only way to render the sense clear is to repeat the word bruit. We must therefore say :
Philippe entendit un bruit dans le lointain et prêta une oreille attentive. Comme CE BRUIT approchait, il distingua les voix joyeuses de ses compagnons.
$ 50. Euphony consists in avoiding the meeting of discordant sounds. We are often compelled to sacrifice to this, sometimes the expression, sometimes the order of words.
§ 51. When it is the literal expression which produces a meeting of sounds disagreeable to the ear, or an unpleasant repetition, we have recourse in the one case to a slight circumlocution, in the other to a synonym.
The snow which falls so frequently in cold England is almost unknown in warm India.
The literal translation would give :
La neige qui tombe si fréquemment dans la froide Angleterre, est presque inconnue dans la CHAUDE INDE.
Chaude Inde produces such a discordance as would be unintelligible even to French ears. But by means of a slight alteration, this sentence may be neatly concluded thus : La neige est presque inconnue dans les chaudes CONTRÉES DE L'INDE.
The children usually meet on the last day of April to make up their nosegay For the next morning.
He left the cottage ABOUT one hour AFTER me.
Les enfants se réunissent ordinairement le dernier jour d'avril POUR faire des bouquets pour le lendemain matin.
Il quitta la chaumière à peu près une heure APRÈS moi.
The repetition of pour and of près at so short an interval produces a very disagreeable effect, which may be avoided by the use of synonyms as follows :
Les enfants se réunissent ordinairement le dernier jour d'avril AFIN DE faire des bouquets pour le lendemain matin.
Il quitta la chaumière ENVIRON une heure après moi.
$ 52. We consider it sufficient to instance the concurrence of the following syllables in order to insure their careful avoidance.
Il alla à Arras.
C'est un homme qui, quoiqu'il croie qu'il est habile, a fait de grandes fautes.
Le lendemoin, il obtint sa main.
§ 53. It is for the sake of euphony that we sacrifice the adverb of place y before irai, the future of the verb aller, so that I will go there is translated by J'irai instead of J'y irai.
Again, euphony restores the s to the second person of the imperative mood, in verbs of the first conjugation, before y and
We could not say, Va-y, Donne-en, but we say, Vas-y, Donnes-en.
When it is the order of words alone which produces a discordant concurrence of syllables, nothing is easier than to avoid it by modifying the construction.
$ 54. We have recommended that the value of the expression and the construction adopted by the English author should always be observed ; but we must add and insist that those two principles should only be adhered to when the genius of the French language permits them—that is to say, when the same laws govern the syntax of both idioms. To endeavour to go beyond this—to retain everything at the risk of falling into barbarisms-would be to write a jargon which would be neither French nor English.
In fact, every language has its peculiar features, which depend on the genius, origin, and habits of a people, as well as on their views, feelings, and modes of expression. Hence arise untranslatable forms, proceeding from a complex association of several of these causes, and deviating from general and common rules so
entirely that they can only be translated by equivalents. These forms, the elements of which often defy any analysis, and against which the translator would struggle in vain, are called Idioms. They are very numerous in English, and would be impossible to give a complete list of them ; besides which, such a task would be unfit for the narrow limits of this present work. For Idioms, we must refer students to the dictionaries, and above all to the perusal of the best writers.
However, we cannot conclude without giving a certain number of Idioms, with their translation, that the importance and difficulty of this particular subject may be better understood. $ 55. Some English Idioms with the French translation.
1. I was by myself.
J'étais seul, 2. It is all over.
C'en est fait, 3. I should do it but for hurting him.
Je le ferais si je ne craignais 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 my children?
Que deviendront mes eztarts? 7. He was wet through.
Il fut mouillé jusqu'aux os. 8. I was looking for you.
Je vous cherchais. 9. I sent for you.
Je vous ai envoyé chercher. 10. He is in my debt for six pounds.
Il me doit six livres. 11. Put out the candle.
Soufflez 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 nine.
Elle a neuf ans.
Quelle heure est-il à votre montre ? 16. It is ten minutes past three.
Il est trois heures dix minutes. 17. It is ten minutes to four.
Il est quatre heures moins dix minutes.
18. They are all one with us.
Ils sont tous du même sentiment que nous 19. He frightened him out of the drawing-room.
Il lui fit quitter le salon en l'effrayant. 20. The rain pours down.
La pluie tombe à verse. 21. At these words, the prisoner turned very pale.
À ces mots, l'accusé devint très-pâle. 22. He has been run over.
Une voiture lui a passé sur le corps. 23 The old beggar shook his stick at her.
· Le vieux mendiant la menaça de son bâton. 24. How will you meet such an expense ?
Comment ferez-vous face à une pareille dépense? 25. What is the matter?
Qu'y a-t-il ? 26. What is the matter with you ?
Qu'avez-vous ? 27. He walked up and down his room.
Il se promenait de long en large dans sa chambre;
Or, Il allait et venait dans sa chambre. 28. It is a matter of course.
Cela va sans ire. 29. To show somebody in.
Faire entrer quelqu'un. 30. He looks very ill.
Il a l'air très-malade. 31. He pretends to be deaf.
Il fait semblant d'être sourd ;
Or, Il fait le sourd. 32. She was dressed up.
Elle était en grande toilette. 33. Are you glad to have a carriage of your own?
Êtes-vous content d'avoir une voiture à vous ? 34. He frowned at him.
Il le regarda de travers. 35. I do not question his honour.
Je ne doute pas de son honneur ;
Or, Je ne mets pas son honneur en question. 36. She was taken ill.
Elle tomba malade. 37. The enemies fled for their lives.
Les ennemis cherchèrent leur salut dans la fuite. 38. You helped me out.
Vous m'avez tiré d'affaire. 39. He does not know how to read.
Il ne sait pas lire. 40. Your interest is at stake.
Il y va de votre intérêt. 41. Go and call your father.
Allez appeler votre père.