bitter swill

timoun

Senior Member
France French
Hello, everyone,
How would you translate: "we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation" (from Obama's inaugural address)? I would say Nous avons connu l'amertume de la guerre civile et la ségrégation, but that doesn't take "swill" into consideration...
Thank you !
 
  • Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    Suggestion:
    Nous avons goûté le fiel de...
    Salut egueule ;)
    Je ne trouve pas "nonsense" dans cette source
     

    Already-Seen

    Senior Member
    US
    French - France
    nous avons bu la coupe amère
    (allusion biblique...)

    swill: mauvaise boisson, rinçure, vinasse
    Je pensais à la coupe d'amertume mais cela n'allait pas bien avec le reste.
    Nous avons bu à la coupe amère de la guerre civile et de la ségrégation... ?

    Ajout :
    Suggestion:
    Nous avons goûté le fiel de...
    Je pense que c'est la meilleure solution. La phrase complète étant un peu longue, quelque chose de concis serait bien.
     
    Last edited:

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    I think Obama was drawing on the usual expression a bitter pill, adding a "twist" by using swill instead--which allowed for a fresh metaphor while allowing him to say drink rather than swallow. (He's famous for his artfulness with words and is said to have penned most of his speech himself.)
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    swill: mauvaise boisson, rinçure, vinasse
    I stand corrected, je ne connaissais que le sens figuré.
    For the sake of clarity I would like to point out that all of archijacq's renderings are themselves figurative. The literal translation of 'swill' is eaux grasses; il s'agit de l'alimentation des porcs. Any fans of Berlin Alexanderplatz in the house, think abwaschwasser!

    And yes, egueule, 'swill' can be used in the sense 'nonsense,' as can its synonym: hog-wash!
     

    Cath.S.

    Senior Member
    français de France
    Merci pour ces précisions MgAz, en revanche eaux grasses ne serait pas compris dans un sens autre que littéral, ou du moins constituerait une métaphore originale, éloignée du langage courant.
    Pour ceux qui l'ignoreraient, ce terme désigne les déchets alimentaires. En France, traditionnellement, on donnait aussi aux cochons du petit-lait (= whey), une boisson qui, elle, n'a rien de répugnant !
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Yes, I guess the problem is that I took Obama's word literally, and heard what I consider very much une métaphore originale, éloignée du langage courant.

    It's unlikely Obama wants to compare "civil war and segregation" to cheap booze--- which is the most generally "current" meaning of the word "swill"--- any more than he wanted to compare them to 'nonsense.'

    [I'll concede it's not impossible that the notion is that these are bad things on which we were drunk ... but I don't embrace the concept.]

    Wildan's suggestion that the phrase echos "bitter pill" is true enough, but as 'artful' a wordsman as Obama is, he would have known that his phrase would be meaningless in any figurative sense and would have to be taken literally. And so if he chose to use it he must have wanted it to be taken literally.

    So says I. (Conscious Shins allusion!)
     
    Last edited:

    Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    Traduction de l'Agence France-Presse:
    Et parce que nous avons goûté à l'amertume d'une guerre de Sécession et de la ségrégation (raciale), et émergé de ce chapitre plus forts et plus unis,...
     
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