You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the girl

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Cacaotee, Oct 31, 2008.

  1. Cacaotee Member

    Hi all,

    Does anyone know a French equivalent to this expression: You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the girl.

    It means that even if you take someone out of their context (usually to a "higher" social position), certain qualities will always remain in them.

    I hesitate to use a word-for-word translation such as
    On peut enlever la fille de la banlieue [qui me semble l'equivalent culturel de trailer park] mais on ne peut pas enlever la banlieue de la fille.

  2. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    Hi, I can't think of an equivalent proverb. It strikes me as pessimistic, and I think it would be associated with racism it you translated it litterally.

    (Btw banlieues are not a good equivalent; some banlieues are actually rich places).

    L'habit ne fait pas le moine is somehow related, but wouldn't work alone.

    Edit: You could try to use the peasant/city opposition: par exemple Une fille peut quitter la campagne, elle reste une fille de la campagne.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2008
  3. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    Cacaotee, how much of a set expression is this? (I have never heard it before...)

    In any case, I think it'll probably have to be translated by "going round" the problem a bit and maybe knowing a bit more about the "circumstances" to consider. (Style, length, etc.)
  4. leonore

    leonore Senior Member

    "Chassez le naturel, il revient au galop" - that's another one.
  5. Salvatos Senior Member

    Québec, Canada
    French - Québec
    Québec has a very similar idiom that reads like this: « Tu peux sortir le gars de la campagne, mais tu peux pas sortir la campagne du gars. »
    I don't know how much "la campagne" in this example relates to trailer parks, but I have seen many similar constructions in the past, so you could adapt it and be easily understood. However, in a strict context or to avoid confusion, leonore's proverb would be a safe bet.
  6. Cacaotee Member

    Merci à vous tous !
    Grop, the meaning is not supposed to be racist, as you can use this expression in a variety of circumstances “au besoin” eg. You can take the boy out of a private school, but you can’t take the private school out of the boy, or You can take the man out of the army, but you can’t take the army out of the man etc etc. Mais merci pour les pr écisions sur les banlieues.
    Salvatos, thanks for the idiom from Québec, does anyone know whether it is used more widely in the French-speaking world ?
    Thanks Leonore, I think that’s the expression I’m looking for.
  7. Matcauthon

    Matcauthon Senior Member

    English Canada
    What Cacaotee says is accurate ("you can use this expression in a variety of circumstances"), but I hear it most commonly in respect to "the country", as Salvatos has it in French here.

    I would, however, dispute its meaning somewhat. To me, the point of this saying (in respect to the country) is that you can't take the good things away from the person.

    For example, if I were to say "you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl", I would probably have said it after a girl did something rather "masculine", for a city-person. I would mean it as a compliment, in that the girl did something helpful, good-natured, or fun, but unorthodox given her current situation.

    For example, perhaps a group of city boys didn't know how to fix their car and were stuck on the side of the road, but this girl went ahead, got greasy, and fixed the car so they could drive home. To me, this would be the girl's hardy country roots showing through.
  8. Micia93

    Micia93 Senior Member

    in the center of France
    et bien pour moi, l'exemple avec la campagne, est au contraire franchement péjoratif !
    la phrase : "tu peux sortir un gars de la campagne, mais tu ne sortiras pas la campagne du gars" signifie que, quoiqu'il fasse, quelque soit le statut qu'il va avoir, la façon dont il s'habille ..., le gars restera un plouc
    non ?
  9. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Exactement, et c'est le sens dans la plupart des cas cités en anglais : "On a beau sortir qqn de son mauvais environnement..."

    Par contre, une langue évolue...
  10. Matcauthon

    Matcauthon Senior Member

    English Canada
    C'est aussi possible que j'ai mal compris l'expression anglais. J'habite au campagne, alors j'ai un penchant qui m'a peut-être trop influencer.

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