c'est à prendre ou à laisser

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Lilittoune

Senior Member
France/French
Hello!

i'm trying to translate this expression.
"on leur fit entendre que c'était à prendre ou à laisser".

i've no idea... :(

"they were...? that it depended on them"
=> very far from the text...

thank you for helping!!!
 
  • E-J

    Senior Member
    England, English
    "They were hinted ..." doesn't work, unfortunately.

    You could say "It was hinted that ..." or "They hinted that ..." (and "They" here refers to the "On" in the original French sentence, not to "leur"), but I would be tempted to find an alternative verb.

    My suggestions:

    They were given to understand that it was a "take it or leave it" offer.

    or

    They were given to understand that it was a case of "take it or leave it".

    or

    They were given to understand that they could take it or leave it.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    E-J said:
    "They were hinted ..." doesn't work, unfortunately.
    Actually, I had very strong doubts. :)
    I thought I might chance it as google displayed 23 hits for "they were hinted that". I should have known better :eek:


    My suggestions:

    They were given to understand that it was a "take it or leave it" offer.
    They were given to understand that it was a case of "take it or leave it".
    They were given to understand that they could take it or leave it.
    That sounds much better indeed :thumbsup:
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    "Take it or leave it" can be a translation, and because of the similarity of the words is an obvious choice for "c'est à prendre ou à laisser". However it is a phrase that you say directly to someone eg "that's the offer, take it or leave it" when you don't really care if they take your offer because you are unwilling to barter any lower (you are sure someone will come along soon who will give you what you want).

    As such I don't think it really fits here, because the way I read it the power is with "leur" not "on". I think lilittoune's suggestion of "up to them" is fine.

    They were given to understand it was up to them.
    They were given to understand it was their choice/the choice was theirs.

    Voilà ce que je propose.:)

    As always a little more context would make it clear.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    timpeac said:
    As such I don't think it really fits here, because the way I read it the power is with "leur" not "on".
    As I see it the "power" is with on.
    On says to them : "take it or leave it". That is, I (we) know it isn't a good offer for you but that's the way it is, you'd better accept it as you won't get any other.

    it is a phrase that you say directly to someone eg "that's the offer, take it or leave it"
    it was a "take it or leave it" offer *(first of E-J's suggestions)
    Why wouldn't that fit ?

    * Maybe with hyphens : a take-it-or-leave-it offer ?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    LV4-26 said:
    As I see it the "power" is with on.
    On says to them : "take it or leave it". That is, I (we) know it isn't a good offer for you but that's the way it is, you'd better accept it as you won't get any other.
    In that case I withdraw my objection:)

    LV4-26 said:
    it was a "take it or leave it" offer (first of E-J's suggestions)
    Why wouldn't that fit ?
    That doesn't sound very idiomatic to me, because "take it or leave it" is just something you say to someone - I haven't seen it as an adjective in this way.

    However I thought E-J's final translation, putting it into indirect speech, was fine.

    Yet given the power is with "on" I would go for

    "They were given to understand it was take it or leave it" since it is a little closer to the original (you could put in "a case of" like in E-J's second option, but you don't have to).
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    LV4-26 said:
    As I see it the "power" is with on.
    On says to them : "take it or leave it". That is, I (we) know it isn't a good offer for you but that's the way it is, you'd better accept it as you won't get any other.

    it was a "take it or leave it" offer *(first of E-J's suggestions)
    Why wouldn't that fit ?

    * Maybe with hyphens : a take-it-or-leave-it offer ?
    LV4-26 I have just reread your post and realised where our different reading comes from. With both understand that on is saying to leur "take it or leave it" however you read it that on is buying from leur and making a "take-it-or-leave-it" offer;) whereas I read it that leur is buying from on and is trying to get a better price, but is told "that is the price, take it or leave it" "the choice is yours, we don't care because someone will come along and pay more later". I think I confused things by saying "the power is with leur" you're right - the power is with "on" but the choice is with leur.

    So I withdraw the withdrawal of my objection!!:D

    By the way "take-it-or-leave-it offer" with hyphens looks much better - funny how a few little lines can make a difference!!
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Note that the initial sentence doesn't necessarily refer to a bargain or a purchase of any kind.
    I suspect it could deal with a salary issue or something.
    Then "take it or leave it" would mean "We know you earned more (or worked less hours) before but we can't/won't pay you more than that. So your choice is to accept this low salary or try to find another job.
    Actually, that's what I've had in mind from the start (which might explain my own interpretation of the sentence)

    But in the absence of context.....
     

    TJB

    Senior Member
    UK / English
    "given to understand" bothers me, as the register is somewhat different to that of "take it or leave it".
    I would suggest "They were told that they could take it or leave it", which is perhaps slightly stronger than the French but seems to fit better in English.
     

    E-J

    Senior Member
    England, English
    TJB said:
    "given to understand" bothers me, as the register is somewhat different to that of "take it or leave it". I would suggest "They were told that they could take it or leave it", which is perhaps slightly stronger than the French but seems to fit better in English.
    In that case, how about "They got the idea that it was 'take it or leave it'." ?

    With that, we've managed to obliterate the all-powerful "on" altogether!
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I agree with TJB's concern about mixing registers (is this not also an issue in the original French, and therefore perhaps deliberate?) and I wonder now if that was why I was initially trying to get away from the "take it or leave it" following the "given to understand".

    I suggest a solution that is midway between the strength of TJB's "were told" and E-J's colloquial "got the idea" -

    They were led to believe that it was take it or leave it.
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    “on leur fit comprendre” = “on leur fit entendre”, right?

    If so: “They were made to understand that (it was the final offer) they had to take it or leave it”
     
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