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to bang one's head against a brick wall

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by slacker237, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. slacker237 Junior Member

    English, UK
    Dear forum,

    I would like some help in finding a suitable idiomatic way to express the following

    I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall

    meaning, despite my best efforts I am making no progress/cannot make a breakthrough.

    Thanks,
    S
     
  2. dewsy Senior Member

    Versailles
    England, english
    Hello

    Not that much different from the English actually...

    Se cogner la tête contre un mur.

    Parler à un mur
     
  3. archijacq Senior Member

    Albi
    french France
    il existe aussi l'expression: aller dans le mur
    (Aller dans une mauvaise direction, aller à l'échec)
     
  4. Pticru Senior Member

    Switzerland
    U.S.-- English
    I've never heard this expression. What I have heard is the following variations:

    Talking to him is like talking to a brick wall
    . (I can't manage to convince him of anything.)

    I feel like banging my head against a brick wall. (I'm frustrated.) Note this differs from the above by the absence of the "I feel like I'm..". It is a sentiment of "I feel like I should go hit my head against a wall", not "I'm already doing it" (pretty subtle, eh?)

    From the meaning described (making no progress/cannot make a breakthrough), I would say the expression would normally run "I feel like I've run up against a brick wall"

    Caveat: my expressions might be AE!
     
  5. shunrei Junior Member

    Sud Ouest
    FRANCE French
    We say sometimes : "c'est à se taper la tête contre les murs" or "se taper la tête contre un mur".
    "se cogner" is not intentional, it’s an accident.
    Parler à un mur is good
     
  6. Pticru Senior Member

    Switzerland
    U.S.-- English
    Ok, but what does it mean precisely? There seem to be a lot of variations in English... with slightly different meanings.
     
  7. slacker237 Junior Member

    English, UK
    Thanks to all for the suggestions, very helpful!



    Yes, very subtle. However I can assure you that my original phrase is perfectly normal, and your attempt to correct it with "I feel like I've run up against a brick wall" has a sense of meeting an insurmountable barrier in the way of progress, whereas my original has more a sense of frustration resulting from numerous failed attempts to acheive something, for example... pretty subtle, eh?:rolleyes:
     
  8. Pticru Senior Member

    Switzerland
    U.S.-- English
    You are absolutely correct, here it is:
    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/be+banging/hitting+head+against+a+brick+wall

    I've never heard it phrased exactly like that (in the present tense with I'm) hence the caveat! Don't know if it's a BE'ism or not. Well, as my physics professor always used to say: "you just have to take everything with a grain of sand". :D
     
  9. shunrei Junior Member

    Sud Ouest
    FRANCE French
    "Se cogner la tête contre un mur" could be if you where running without looking ahead and you bumped into a wall. It's real. you get hurt.
    "Se taper la tête contre les mur" is an image.
    I hope it helps
     
  10. Teafrog

    Teafrog Senior Member

    London
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    I reckon you've hit the nail on the head. "Banging one's head…" is very BE and used regularly (the use of "banging" is a dead giveaway to being BE or OzE ;)).
    I'd say: J'ai l'impression de me cogner la tête contre les murs
     
  11. Pticru Senior Member

    Switzerland
    U.S.-- English
    Ah ha. My physics professor also always used to say "you've hit the hammer right on the nail."

    Teafrog, what do you think though of shunrei's preference for taper vs. cogner in this case?
     
  12. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    French
    What about the expression in French:

    Je me heurte à un mur

    ?
     
  13. Teafrog

    Teafrog Senior Member

    London
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    6 of one, half a dozen of the other.. almost > (means almost the same, in plain lingo :cool:)
    Honestly I prefer "cogner" because you ram yourself against an object, whereas "frapper" infers you use an object to hit yourself (in this case).
    Besides, I prefer the sound of cogner vs taper :D
    In our example, you bang your head against an object, you don't grab the object to bang your head.
    Makes sense or am I off track? :p
     

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