Après moi, le déluge

Dieses Thema im Forum "French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais" wurde erstellt von geve, 11. Februar 2007.

  1. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Hello, forum :)

    "Après moi, le déluge" is a set phrase used to denigrate the attitude of someone who acts irresponsibly, without worrying on the consequences that his/her acts could have. Something like: "I don't care what happens next, I'll be gone", "The world could collapse after I'm gone, no big deal".

    I have actually just discovered :eek: that the French sentence is attributed to Louis XV or Madame de Pompadour - More details here.
    However what I'm interested in here is not to find the best translation for the historical quote, but to know if there's a set phrase in English to express the same idea, used in the situation I described.

  2. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Just to note that I think that's the way it was meant, and that it had some prophetic quality about it, even though today people who use it usually mean "I don't give a damn about what happens when I'm gone".
  3. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Thank you for pointing that out, Egueule. :)

    But just to be clear - what I'm looking for here is a common phrase that would be said when someone seems to not care about the consequences of their acts.
    Maybe it will be clearer with an example: Mr Filthy goes for a trip in the mountains and leaves all his garbage, empty cans and cigarette butts behind, disseminated amongst the lovely pine trees and frolicking chamois, because, well, why would he give a damn? He won't be there to see the damage; besides, doesn't everybody do that anyway?
    Someone witnessing this could say that "Après moi le déluge" is Mr Filthy's motto.
  4. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
  5. Amityville

    Amityville Senior Member

    English UK
    I agree with Kelly. A sillier example: we used to say it at school when first outside at hometime - though not every day, I grant you, and the French Revolution was on the history syllabus. There may be some other phrase in English but it will be a pale imitation, us not having had a revolution.
  6. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Vraiment ? La même phrase, en français ? Et ce serait compris par tout le monde ? C'est trop facile pour être vrai !!

    Merci bien, Kelly et Amity :)
  7. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    San Francisco
    Am. English
    What does the phrase mean literally?
  8. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    Non, pas compris par tout le monde. Kelly l'a bien expliqué - on pourrait le citer en français auprès d'un public "high readership." Style New York Times, etc. Pour les autres il faudrait chercher une tournure en anglais... ce qui ne me paraît pas évident !
    Zuletzt von einem Moderator bearbeitet: 3. September 2017
  9. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    damn the consequences
  10. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    Or: Come what may

    or: He always leaves a wake of disaster behind himself

    (ce ne sont pas des citations, mais des phrases appropriées dans certaines situations qui pourraient évoquer la fameuse citation en français )
  11. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    After me the downpour, the flood, the deluge.
  12. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Thank you for the fresh suggestions! :)

    It seems to me that "damn the consequences" would fit better in the context I gave as an example in my post #3... non ?
  13. liulia Senior Member

    Yes, I would agree that "Damn the consequences!" is so far the best solution.
  14. catay Senior Member

    Canada anglais
    Moi aussi, je l'ai appris en francais.
  15. KevR New Member

    Britain. English.
    How about, a "devil may care" attitude?

    That's what I understand by it, as a native English speaker...
  16. liulia Senior Member

    Yes! I think that's a very good idea, if it works with the context.
  17. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Interesting new ideas, thanks!

    In French we could also call it une attitude je-m'en-foutiste (derived from je m'en fous - I don't care). Also works as a noun: Je-m'en-foutisme.
  18. "Devil may care attitude" and most of those others are, to my mind, a bit weak. This comment presaged the french revolution! I think that there is no English phrase that says this as well (excepting the translation).

    Additionally - it appears to be the motto of one Mr. George W Bush.

    (And if you live on a small pacific island - the deluge is literal)
  19. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Would it be too colloquial to say
    'to hell with the consequences'?

    And could we say 'aftereffect' instead of 'consequences'?
  20. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    That's quite similar to se16teddy's suggestion in post #9, and those are my favorites so far. :thumbsup:

    Aftereffects seems more random to me - something that happens after a natural event like a tornado, maybe, rather than man-made messes.
  21. not_using_my_real_name Senior Member

    French - France
    'To hell with the consequences' means the consequences could hurt anybody, me included
    eg, I'll climb up the Everest unprepared and drunk, to hell with the consequences...

    'Après moi, le déluge' is not applicable if I'll climb up the Everest unprepared and drunk.

    The subtly aggressive selfishness of "après moi le déluge" induces there may very well be bad consequences, but not for me, and I don't care for the rest.
    The deluge will only start after my lifetime.
    Granted, it may well be a disaster for whoever faces it, but I don't have time for that consideration...

    what about:
    "('I got my way / I'll do whatever I'm doing), let someone else deal with the consequences"

    let others sort it out (maybe that's BE?)

    Is it idiomatic to say "if I'm OK, you're OK" in that intention ?
  22. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    I'm OK, you're OK is certainly wrong, it means "Deep down, we are both decent people... Jesus loves you... Be forgiving to yourself..."

    Among the standard British expressions for "Après moi, le déluge" are I'm OK Jack / Blow you Jack, I'm OK / Haul up the ladder Jack, I'm on board (Royal Navy expression).

    (Somebody once noticed that la déluge is an anagram of De Gaulle. Pity it's actually le déluge...)
  23. not_using_my_real_name Senior Member

    French - France
    Thanks a lot, Keith Bradford, for your 3 solutions: no dictionary provides these expressions, and foreigners can't hope to guess any of them either.

    Can native speakers tell us whether "I'm OK Jack / Blow you Jack, I'm OK" are standard in AE too, please ?

    I guess "IF I'm OK, you're OK" no standard English either, right? I heard it only in the Netherlands, but always liked its subtle, selfish aggressiveness
  24. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    No, not really. We might understand it as something British, but I can't imagine Americans saying that spontaneously.

    You have some good AE suggestions already--no further ideas.
  25. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    "Subtle selfish aggressiveness" only if you haven't read the original book of that title by Thomas A. Harris MD, one of the best selling self-help books ever published. It is a practical guide to Transactional Analysis, but much misunderstood (perhaps deliberately) by proponents of original sin and fundamentalist religion who are not OK and don't want anyone else to be.

    I repeat, I'm OK, you're OK means "Deep down, we are both decent people... Be forgiving to yourself..."
  26. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    Now that we've established that there isn´t one set phrase for this that is used by all English speakers, it is probably worth considering a few more general options. For example, when the consequences of things like climate change are discussed, a very common reaction is for people to shrug their shoulders and say one of the following, or something similar
    -Well, it won't affect me / us!
    -Well, at least I / we won't be around to see it!
    -I don't think we need to worry about that!

    In other words, we say very similar things to what was suggested in the original post. :)
  27. not_using_my_real_name Senior Member

    French - France
    (watch me,) see if I care (about the consequences) !
  28. This is precisely why we use words/phrases such as this. The meaning is not in the denotation, rather it is in the associated connotations surrounding it.

    Take the word "hip" (as in "cool"). Could any simple definition really capture the full flavor of the word - which always remains a to a large degree personal?
  29. Anglo1 Member

    "X always leaves a trail of destruction" i.e unwashed crockery, dirty clothing and just a general lack of organisation (usually used by parents for their untidy children) OR X makes things difficult for everyone else by creating awkward situations that other people have to deal with.

    I don't think I've ever heard it used by someone to describe themselves, though.
  30. However the rest of the post allows one to come to a more joyous interpretation. Rather than the nihilistic 'let it all go to the dogs', we are invited to rise above the petty 'getting and spending' attitude of the masses and see life for the play that Shakespeare said it was.

    So it's not a morose 'who cares' but an enlightened 'who cares, it's only a big cloud of hydrogen atoms that were rearranged five billion years ago, and as Democritus so presciently surmised will 'flow' into a new arrangement long after there's anyone left to care.'
  31. edwingill Senior Member

    England English
    "I don't care what happens after I'm gone"
  32. Mr. Texas New Member

    English - American
    "Not my problem."


    "Your problem, not mine."
  33. Ratskiwatski New Member

    American English, français
    To complete the thread for future users, an alternative to the above might incorporate the expression to do something "come hell or high water." C'est a dire, de faire quelque chose "que vienne l'enfer ou le déluge." L'implication est qu'on met tellement d'importance sur l'accomplissement de sa tâche (ou son plaisir) qu'on y arrivera quoi qu'il arrive, y inclus les pires empechements.
    I recognize that the element of indifference is differently directed in English, however, a sentence can be built around it that conveys a contempt for the future.
  34. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
  35. foreverknight New Member

    English - England
    "Après moi, le déluge" is attributed to Louis XIV. "Après NOUS, le déluge" to Madame Pompadour and is surely a restating of the original to mean herself and Louis XV. The original expressed Louis XIV's belief that the world would decline without him as supreme leader so I would guess it's an extreme version of every parent's "Once I'm gone, you'll be sorry" or every jilted lover's "You're nothing without me".
  36. oldmotem New Member

    English - USA
    An equivalent in English might be: DAMN THE TORPEDOES, FULL SPEED AHEAD.
  37. guillaumedemanzac

    guillaumedemanzac Senior Member

    English - Southern England Home Counties
    "Apres moi, le deluge!" is well-known enough (by Kelly's 'higher readership') to be written in English with no accents and no translation.
    Zuletzt von einem Moderator bearbeitet: 11. Juli 2016
  38. guillaumedemanzac

    guillaumedemanzac Senior Member

    English - Southern England Home Counties
    Agree with #42.
    After me, the Flood. (biblical reference).
    After me, Catastrophe comes calling.
    After me, it will be a total disaster.
    After me, Chaos and Disruption.
  39. Stone Mason New Member

    English - English
    A common English phrase with the same intent, ie: "let's enjoy life now, who cares what happens when we're gone" is "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die."
  40. not_using_my_real_name Senior Member

    French - France
    I'm French myself but didn't know the initial intention of a gloomy prediction: "Once I'm no longer here to take care of things, everything's going to go to hell in a handbasket."

    Inversely, I have only heard the French use the phrase to mean "I'll do as I damn please, let someone else deal with whatever the consequences"
    Maybe the meaning has drifted in France but was kept intact in the UK...
  41. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    Ten years later! I guess we are still searching. Another try from me:

    Who cares? -- Not my problem. That isn't really a set phrase but I believe it renders the idea in a way English-speakers readily understand.

    (Damn the torpedoes is not the same, because the potential loss or punishment will also befall the person saying it.)
  42. eno2

    eno2 Senior Member

    El Hierro de Canarias
    Frankly I don't give a damn .... what happens after me.

    First part by Rhett Buttler, second part by Eno.
  43. atro New Member

    New Zealand, English
    I have heard it translated as "WITHOUT me, the deluge" and I think this captures the original nuance more accurately, and faithfully to the context, while remaining concise.

    It's (I think) a salutary reminder of the perils of translating as if one were a machine.
  44. Jimbob_Disco

    Jimbob_Disco Senior Member

    British English (England)
    Non, c’est pas compris par tout le monde! C’était trop facile pour être vrai! En anglais, on peut dire ‘so what’.
  45. eno2

    eno2 Senior Member

    El Hierro de Canarias

    Think of it what you want, the following explanation unites both, but 'après moi ' is clearly not 'après je que j'ai fait ':

    Après moi le déluge – Expressio par Reverso

    Because the deluge can't hurt you if you're not there anymore.
  46. Jimbob_Disco

    Jimbob_Disco Senior Member

    British English (England)
    Exactly, so why is there a problem with my suggestion of ‘so what’?

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