Dirt is matter out of place

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Spectre scolaire, Oct 20, 2006.

  1. Spectre scolaire Senior Member

    Moving around, p.t. Turkey
    Maltese and Russian
    What about "dirt is matter out of place", cf. the definition of "dirt" in Mary Tew Douglas' book "Purity and Danger"?

    Dame Mary Douglas died May 16, 2007 – 7 months ago in these days – at the age of 86.

    Lisa Jardine in her “Looking back at Orfeus”, sent in BBC News a couple of weeks ago and reproduced in http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7109147.stm suddenly starts talking about Out of place and Mary Douglas, --

    I originally came up with this request in the previous post as my very first contribution in a WR forum – but it was formulated in such a clumsy way :eek: that I got no replies. I am still interested in getting an answer, so here we go:

    How would you translate into French:
    Dirt is matter out of place

    Purity and Danger has been translated into French as De la souillure, but I am not in possession of this translation. According to what I have gleaned from the web, however, the adage “Dirt is matter out of place” seems to be translated into French as “La saleté est une rupture de l’ordre”. This does give an indication of what Douglas wants to say, but from a translatology point of view this is not particularly precise ;) – if this is indeed the “official” translation of it.

    Any better suggestion would be appreciated!
    :) :)
     
  2. Micia93

    Micia93 Senior Member

    in the center of France
    FRANCE FRENCH
    et si on dit : "la saleté ne rentre pas dans l'ordre des choses" , cela t'irait ?
     
  3. Broff Senior Member

    Maryland
    French
    La saleté est une matière hors d'ordre. I think the author is doing a play on words with parlementary procedures
     
  4. le chat noir

    le chat noir Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French (by birth!), some English, a bit of Russian and traces of German
    Sorry Broff but "matière hors d'ordre" sounds really strange.
    I would rather say

    "La saleté n'est que de la matière mal placée".

    It means a given object will be considered less for its intrinsic value than for the way it fits into the scheme of an idealized universe. Matter is neutral, its location alone may design it as junk.
     
  5. Broff Senior Member

    Maryland
    French
    Hi chat noir,

    Ditto for the original. I believe there is a play on words, and to translate it would require to understand the work a little better.:)

    La saleté est un sujet non-classifié. :D
     
  6. le chat noir

    le chat noir Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French (by birth!), some English, a bit of Russian and traces of German
    Well yes, I see what you mean. Sorry for not having being clear. No offense, but what I meant was, "matière hors d'ordre" really does not make sense in French without a very explicit context.

    Furthermore, I don't know the original work, but from the aforementioned article I think it is more an analysis in terms of normality rather than legitimity:

    "Shoes are not dirty in themselves, but it is dirty to place them on the dining-table - that was clearly how my Japanese shop-assistants understood my almost entering their changing-room with my shoes on."

    This illustrates the point I tried to make: the location defines the value of an object. However I'm curious about what made you think of this legal approach?

    Edit: as an afterthought, maybe a slightly modified version of Micia93 would do:

    "La saleté est ce qui n'entre pas dans l'ordre des choses",

    or a longer, more explicit version :

    "La saleté n'est rien d'autre que ce qui ne rentre pas dans l'ordre des choses" (dirt is nothing but out of place matter)
     
  7. Broff Senior Member

    Maryland
    French
    Or perhaps:

    "La saleté est ce qui n'entre pas dans l'ordre établi des choses",
     
  8. le chat noir

    le chat noir Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French (by birth!), some English, a bit of Russian and traces of German
    yes, this one is more explicit without becoming too heavy.
     
  9. Broff Senior Member

    Maryland
    French
    I wonder now, n'entre pas or ne rentre pas?
     
  10. le chat noir

    le chat noir Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French (by birth!), some English, a bit of Russian and traces of German
    In this context both are equivalent, because most of the meaning resides in "l'ordre des choses".

    "ne pas entrer dans l'ordre des choses" means "not to be a part of..." while "ne pas rentrer..." would mean "to be unable to fit into...".

    Maybe "n'entre pas" is a bit more elegant.
     
  11. Spectre scolaire Senior Member

    Moving around, p.t. Turkey
    Maltese and Russian
    I greatly appreciate this discussion about an adequate French version of Mary Douglas’ famous saying. :)

    Dirt is matter out of place has proved surprisingly difficult to translate into French. Such cases in translatology are interesting because they show on one hand how overall important the context is – you simply have to understand what Douglas really means (and I think Lisa Jardine is getting to it reasonably well! –without having to translate it :D), and on the other hand how unique one language may turn out to be in expressing an adage (or, if you like, a very stuffed version) reflecting a whole cosmos of research.

    I am stunned by the great applicability of this saying. One day I may have to use it in a French context – that’s why I addressed the issue in the first place, and a new thread was eventually created. :thumbsup:

    While I am not entirely convinced by any of the suggested translations, your contributions have been of great value to me! :idea:

    If anybody else would like to throw in their two cents – je ne demanderais pas mieux ! ;)
    :) :)
     

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