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plus ça change

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Moon Palace, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Lyon
    French
    Hello again,
    Here is this sentence from today's Independent, and I wonder first if it is a usual one, then whether something is missing, and if not, then I need to know what it means because in spite of me being a native French speaker, I can't make any sense out of it as it is.

    "This binary divide was the product of the education system of 40 years ago. Would it be any different today? Plus ça change, we say."

    Thanks for your help. :)
     
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I think it's simply a reference to a French saying that translates inito English roughly as "the more things change, the more they stay the same."
     
  3. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Lyon
    French
    Thank you James :), and sorry if I disturbed with this French phrase, but as I found it in an English newspaper, I was surprised and wanted to check whether it would be understood by its readership.
    Besides, I had no idea that the beginning of the phrase sufficed to let people guess the end. We are not that elliptic in our foreign idioms. A shame, that would be fun. :D
     
  4. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    While the expression is not on the tip of the tongue of every native AE speaker,
    those who read books are generally well aware of it, even if they pronounce it as
    clumsily as I do. While it may not quite be an adopted idiom, it is common enough that
    the first few words suffice.
     
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Plus ça change is well established in English. I suspect that most people who use it have little idea what follows it in French.
    You are likely to find it also in the Times or the Guardian, but probably not in the Sun.

    You will also find it in the OED :)
     
  6. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    We are often elliptic with idioms, whether foreign or not. It is fun, now that you mention it!
     
  7. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Lyon
    French
    Thanks dear Mods for this impromptu gathering. ;) :p
    And thank you anothersmith.:)The pity is we are never elliptic, except in crosswords! :rolleyes:
    I had not thought it would be in dictionaries actually, as it was French. Should have thought better of posting first. :eek:

    (if any of you has a few spare minutes, my other post on 'in return for appropriations' would appreciate publicity :D)
     
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    The full version I know is Plus ça change, plus ça reste le même but I'm pretty certain I didn't learn this from a Frenchman, or in my 20-odd years of studying French. I'm also not at all sure I've ever heard anyone say the full version.
    Moon, does this saying not exist at all in 'real' French?
     
  9. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Actually, I've always heard "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"

    but I think I've only heard it in an English-speaking context too.
     
  10. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    US-English
    This is one of many short French phrases "peppering" English that I've skipped over most of my life.

    I had no idea what it meant until reading this thread. :)
     
  11. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Lyon
    French
    Well, to be honest, I have had to check because one thing I know is that it is far from commonplace.
    In fact, we say 'plus ça change, plus c'est pareil' (the more it changes, the more it remains the same). But it is colloquial and certainly not as common as it seems to be in English.
     
  12. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Oh Timpeac! how embarrassing for you us!
     
  13. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Lyon
    French
    You shouldn't be, Timpeac's suggestion is in fact the same, but more formal. The one a newspaper would probably use, but for some reason, we don't seem to use it as much as you do. (maybe because we refuse to admit that changes are changes but in name).
     
  14. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    San-fairy-ann, MoonP.
    That's another one; I remember it well from my childhood but I'd say it's distinctly out-of-use nowadays.

    [That's Ça ne fait rien, by the way, in case you don't spot it in its English disguise: it's pronounced and actually written that way!]
     
  15. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    The English version of the French certainly seems to be the "même chose" one. Here I've googled "plus ça change plus" without specifying further and the vast majority seem to be the "même chose" one. That said, it all seems to be quotes in an English context. How strange we use a different phrase from the French themselves.

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=e...=&as_occt=any&cr=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&safe=images
     
  16. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Lyon
    French
    True, but this is equally true of 'rendez-vous' for instance. We don't give it the same meaning. I believe this is linked to the first use of the word / phrase in English.
    What I know about 'plus ça change' is that we don't use it that often, which is why I had to think about it.
     
  17. itka Senior Member

    France
    français
    The set phrase I always heard is "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" but actually it's not very common and rather colloquial.
     
  18. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    In the English speaking context it's not colloquial because by definition saying something in a foreign language can't be colloquial. It's interesting that you've heard only the même chose version. My impression, rereading this thread 2 years later, is that the "même chose" version is probably the original but it's not a well known idiom in French anyway (unlike English where it is), and so if the French were going to express the idea without knowing the quote they's say "pareil" instead.
     
  19. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    Hello itka, I'm surprised to read this. The one I'm used it hear is : « Plus ça change, plus c'est pareil », just like Moon wrote in post #11.

    I assume that it varies from one region to the next. ;)
     
  20. itka Senior Member

    France
    français
    Probablement ! Ce n'est pas une expression très fréquente, mais je ne me souviens pas d'avoir entendu : « Plus ça change, plus c'est pareil » :D
     

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