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Mais il paraît qu'impossible n'est pas français, alors je vais essayer...

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by AaaBaa, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. AaaBaa Junior Member

    English - UK
    Hi everyone,

    I quite can't work out the following phrase:

    "mais il paraît qu'impossible n'est pas français, alors je vais essayer..."

    But it would seem almost impossible [blank]??, but I will try to...

    I'd appreciate it if someone could help!!
     
  2. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    Connecticut
    US-English
    "But it would seem that 'impossible' is not French, so I am going to try..."
    It's as though the author means that nothing is impossible to a French person, so ....
     
  3. AaaBaa Junior Member

    English - UK
    This is the full sentence:

    "Je crois que je vais rater le Carnaval, en effet, je suis invité au mariage d'un ami le 26/27 Aout, et arriver à Londres le 27 au soir relève de l'exploit. mais il paraît qu'impossible n'est pas français, alors je vais essayer..."


    I think I'll miss the Carnival, I've been invited to a friend's wedding on 26/27 August, so coming to London on the 27th evening [.....HELP!!!.....], but I'll try...
     
  4. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    Connecticut
    US-English
    The concept of "impossible" doesn't exist in French, so the speaker will try to be in both places at once (the wedding & the Carnival).
     
  5. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Il paraît que is not exactly the same as il semble que in French.
    Il semble que is it seems that or it appears that
    whereas il paraît que basically translates to word is that or word has it that

    In the sample sentence, we are referring to a famous saying in French (Impossible n'est pas français). Therefore, there's a slight irony in this "il paraît que".

    I don't know. Would English speakers say such sentences as
    Word is that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
    for instance?
    Or any structure of the kind Rumor has it that XXX (XXX being a famous proverb).
     
  6. Gardefeu Senior Member

    x
    x
    Impossible n'est pas français is a famous quote by Napoleon (see here for further detail). It is now used as a proverb, and is very popular in France.
    The meaning is quite simple: there's nothing impossible to a Frenchman (well, that's what Napoleon thought!)
     
  7. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    Connecticut
    US-English
     
  8. AaaBaa Junior Member

    English - UK
    Sorry I see what you mean, I thought before you were making the linguistic comment that the concept of 'impossible' doesn't exist in French!! D'oh!
     
  9. AaaBaa Junior Member

    English - UK
    Or in English you would say:

    "They say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

    OR

    "As they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
     
  10. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Reading french4beth's comments, I take it that this way of introducing a proverb is far less common and natural in English as it is in French.
    Why not try something like
    They say that impossible isn't a French word...

    Well, I don't know how it'll sound in English but, at least, that's the meaning.
     
  11. GLange Junior Member

    Paris
    Français, France
    The standard american version of this quote is:
    "Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools."
    This brings us far away from the original sentence, but it sounds great.
     
  12. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    hmm, it might just be me, but I've never heard that "standard american quote" :eek:

    but this suggestion has a very nice ring to it (just maybe add quotes around the word 'impossible'):

    if you wanted to make the meaning absolutely, totally clear you might say,

    "they say (that) there isn't a word for 'impossible' in French..."

    but I like LV4-26's version better! :)
     
  13. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    Hello,

    In line with french4beth's citation, I found this...

    There is no such word as "can't"
    Impossible n'est pas français

    Here...

    http://membres.lycos.fr/jeuxdelettres/HTML/proverbes/ProverbesIndex.htm
    Proverbes classés par thèmes
    Il s’agit d’un site dans lequel l’internaute peut trouver la traduction, en français, de proverbes anglais (but it works the other way round too).

    I entered "impossible" in the search engine.

    My effort:
    As they say... there is no such word as "can't" so I will give it a try.
    I'm sure this needs proof/edit. I'm a French Quebecer ;)

    And I love GLange's line too. :thumbsup:
     
  14. GLange Junior Member

    Paris
    Français, France
    Thanks for the advice, next time I'll be more cautious.:)
    It's a much closer translation, but a Google search on the sentence + "Napoleon" gives 1 result against 385 for the "dictionary of fools."
    Anyway, Nicomon's translation has my vote. It's laconic and arrogant: very Napoleonic. The only thing it misses is the French chauvinism. Could we modify it in "French has no such word as can't"? Would an english native say that?

    Some additional information about the sentence from the blog "language log":

     

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