à peine + present

brinded

Senior Member
UK English
I understand the gist of the following sentence (in the context of looking at a tree in the middle of July) but <qu'à peine> has me confused.

Le marronnier est atteint d'une maladie qui fait qu'à peine ses feuilles sont bien vertes que déjà elles se flétrissent de deviennent marrons comme si nous étions déjà en automne.
Here's my attempt at translating.

The chestnut tree has a disease which makes its leaves which are (normally?) very green already wilt and become brown as if we were already in autumn.
 
  • misterk

    Moderator
    English-American
    A peine means "barely" or hardly." In this sentence, you might translate it as:
    ...a disease such that when its leaves have just turned green they wilt...
    ...a disease such that when its leaves have just started to turn green they wilt...
    ...a disease such that as soon as its leaves turn green they wilt...
    ...a disease which makes its leaves, when they have just started to turn green, wilt...
     

    brinded

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Thanks Liloia – makes sense now – although that's the first time I've seen <à peine> used like <dès que>.

    The dictionary doesn't seem to have an entry for that compound form of <peine>.
     

    brinded

    Senior Member
    UK English
    misterk,
    Thanks - very helpful.

    I suspect the author's construction (although fluid in French) doesn't lend itself to a direct translation in English. But 'have hardly' feels like a good way to translate that fragment of the sentence.
     

    LILOIA

    Senior Member
    Thanks Liloia – makes sense now – although that's the first time I've seen <à peine> used like <dès que>.

    The dictionary doesn't seem to have an entry for that compound form of <peine>.
    I've got one in mine : "à peine" as a synonym of [aussitôt] with these two exemples :
    1) à peine guérie, elle a repris le travail : no sooner had she recovered than she went back to work.
    2) à peine était-elle couchée que le téléphone s'est mis à sonner : no sooner had she gone to bed that or she'd only just gone to bed when the phone rang.
     
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