ça sent le marché

alephbet

New Member
English
Bonjour,
I am trying to translate an editorial from a newspaper published in French in New England (USA) in the 1920s. The editorial is describing a donation that was made to a religious group in New Hampshire. The author is suspicious of the publicity that the donor has received for his donation. The editor says that the donor has "sounded the trumpet," publicizing his gift out of self-interest and a desire for recognition rather than out of charity. After saying all this, he says: "Ça sent le marché."

How might I translate this phrase? I wonder if "it smells like money" is a close approximation?

Merci!
 
  • bh7

    Senior Member
    Canada; English
    As Roman emperor Vespasian is supposed to have said, money has no smell. In any case, the remark in your text pillories the donor's behaviour when giving his money, not the fact that he is wealthy. His supposedly benevolent, altruistic giving is really self-interested like that of a businessman.

    "This smacks of business / self-interest [not altruism]."
     

    EmmanuelM

    Senior Member
    French
    I would need more time to check if in the 1920s the words had the same meaning. But nowadays at least, in this context "marché" has the same meaning as in "conclure un marché" (to make a deal/to sign a contract).

    In my opinion, it means the editor thinks the businessman made a donation to the religious group not only for self-publicity, etc, but also because he has probably made a deal with the group for something in exchange.
     

    alephbet

    New Member
    English
    Thank you all for your suggestions and insights. EmmanuelM is exactly right about the context. The editor is accusing the donor of trying to use his funds to influence the group's activities. "Ça sent le marché" has an air of suspicion to it, so I think I might translate the sentence as "I smell a deal" in order to allude to the saying "I smell a rat" (if I smell a rat, it means I suspect somebody is behaving dishonestly) and also to preserve the attitude conveyed by the editor's writing style, which is mocking.

    Ç'est bon?
     
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