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jeter une ombre sur

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by mdbvma, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. mdbvma Senior Member

    Canada, English
    "Au Cambodge, j'ai péché par ignorance et par naïveté. J'avais un peu connu certains dirigeants actuels des Khmers rouges, mais rien ne permettait de jeter une ombre sur leur avenir et leur programme. Ils se réclamaient du marxisme, sans que j'aie pu déceler en eux les racines du totalitarisme. J'avoue que j'ai manqué de pénétration politique."

    In this context, what is the meaning in English of the expression "jeter une ombre sur."
     
  2. le chat noir

    le chat noir Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French (by birth!), some English, a bit of Russian and traces of German
    I would say it means a premonition of dark things to come. Would "cast a shadow" not convey the same meaning ?
     
  3. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Wollongong, Australia
    English - Australia
    No, I don't think it would. Maybe "nothing allowed me to discern the (looming) shadow of their..."
     
  4. mdbvma Senior Member

    Canada, English
    If I heard in English that someone was attempting to cast a shadow on a political program, I would presume it to mean that they were concealing it. In this paragraph, however, "jeter une ombre sur" seems to mean something along the lines of "to shed light on," rather than "to cast a shadow on". However, that is only a guess since I have never heard this expression before.
     
  5. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Wollongong, Australia
    English - Australia
    "To cast a shadow over" in English generally means to have an unwelcome presence or negatively affect something. For example, one could say "talks of a rigged ballot cast a shadow over the election" - similar to "overshadowed", I suppose.

    For this reason, the French sentence makes little sense to my Anglophone ears, but in any event the shadow imagery suggests a dark premonition, so I would not employ an expression involving "light"! ;)
     
  6. david314

    david314 Senior Member

    Clayton, Missouri
    American English
    Perhaps(?) : ...nothing existed to foreshadow their diabolical plans... :eek:
     
  7. candypole Senior Member

    australia english
    I think le chat noir's suggestion 'cast a shadow' is what the sentence means literally and what jeter une ombre normally means. "Nothing permitted (one) to 'cast a shadow' over their future and their program." However, it's a little odd in English. In this context, jeter une ombre seem to mean 'doubt' or even 'impugn'. "Nothing allowed one to doubt their future and their program" or 'there was nothing to indicate (to me) a shadow over their future and their program.'
     
  8. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Wollongong, Australia
    English - Australia
    I like foreshadow a lot. :D
     
  9. bloomiegirl

    bloomiegirl Senior Member

    New York
    US English
    How about becloud? I like it because I think it mimics the darkness of jeter un ombre (sur).
     
  10. FAC13

    FAC13 Senior Member

    English, UK
    I think perhaps converting the expression to use the (very English) passive voice would allow a neater translation: "nothing was allowed to overshadow ..."
     
  11. bloomiegirl

    bloomiegirl Senior Member

    New York
    US English
    I realize that the second definition for overshadow is to cast a shadow, but my mind just doesn't go there. Instead, it stops at the first definition, be more important than, which makes the sentence sound like nothing was allowed to be more important than their future... :thumbsdown:
    However, this in turn makes rien ne permettait problematic; it starts to sound as if les dirigeants ne le permettaient pas. :thumbsdown:

    But I think that the author was just clueless, burdened with ignorance et naïveté; nothing that he know allowed him to have any second thoughts about their future and program.

    Do Francophones agree that the author is speaking about his own thought process?
     
  12. Mr E Junior Member

    Ireland English
    mais rien ne permettait de jeter une ombre sur leur avenir
    I do not want to cast a shadow on your discussions but the cats answer was spot on!

    rien ne permettait I did not have the right to
     
  13. candypole Senior Member

    australia english
    ?? 'There was nothing to cast a shadow over their future and their program.'
    [​IMG]
     
  14. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Wollongong, Australia
    English - Australia
    I'm afraid I can't agree with this in any way :(... it's about being able/allowed to, not having the right, surely...

    I still like David's to foreshadow far and away the best. :)
     
  15. Austin Pal Senior Member

    He couldn't tell at the time how dark their coming plans would be...
    Nothing could make him predict anything bad for the future...
     
  16. bloomiegirl

    bloomiegirl Senior Member

    New York
    US English
    Pourtant, je ne crois pas ça convient ici: "Jeter un ombre sur" veut dire "obscurcir"; n'est-ce pas? But "foreshadow" means "indicate beforehand" or "presage."

    I think the general sense is -- loosely -- that the narrator didn't question the future that the Khmer rouge leaders predicted.
    I think the Cat, seconded by Mr E and Candypole, has the right solution: "cast a shadow":tick: is not only a close translation, but the general sense here. :thumbsup:
    (Never mind that I disagree with the Cat's reason for choosing it.) And of course, I like my choice: "becloud," though it's a looser translation.

    Ah, but if I've gotten it wrong, it's not the first time -- and won't be the last time either. ;)
     
  17. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Wollongong, Australia
    English - Australia
    In that case, it's not a premonition of dark things to come, as appeared to be the consensus when I originally posted.
     
  18. bloomiegirl

    bloomiegirl Senior Member

    New York
    US English
    Mais que vous dit le français? À vous, Francophone?

    Never mind! I forgot: we're both Anglophones.:eek:

    So perhaps Mdbvma should use the Cat's "cast a shadow over,":D or my brilliant "becloud." :rolleyes:
     

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