Explique qui pourra

Akinci

Senior Member
Turkish
Dans les premiers jours du mois d’octobre 181., le colonel Sir Thomas Nevil, Irlandais, officier distingué de l’armée anglaise, descendit avec sa fille à l’hôtel Beauvau, à Marseille, au retour d’un voyage en Italie. L’admiration continue des voyageurs enthousiastes a produit une réaction, et, pour se singulariser, beaucoup de touristes aujourd’hui prennent pour devise le nil admirari d’Horace. C’est à cette classe de voyageurs mécontents qu’appartenait miss Lydia, fille unique du colonel. La Transfiguration lui avait paru médiocre, le Vésuve en éruption à peine supérieur aux cheminées des usines de Birmingham. En somme, sa grande objection contre l’Italie était que ce pays manquait de couleur locale, de caractère. Explique qui pourra le sens de ces mots, que je comprenais fort bien il y a quelques années, et que je n’entends plus aujourd’hui...

"Explique qui pourra le sens de ces mots". Here is "explique" a conjugated version of "expliquer"? If so, where is the subject and what is the object of"pouvoir"?
 
  • Michelvar

    Quasimodo
    French / France
    Hi,

    Yes, "explique" is conjugated, here. "Qui pourra" is the subject, "le sens de ces mots" is the object. It's a stylish way to say : "Que celui qui pourra expliquer ces mots les explique".



    May the one who will be able to explain those words explain them. (in my poor English)

    The author is speaking about "couleur locale" and "caractère", those words that used to mean something to him, but that no longer do.

    It's the same structure as :
    • comprend qui peut
    • sauve qui peut
     

    Akinci

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    It is very hard to understand such sentences in French...

    "Que celui qui pourra expliquer ces mots les explique". May the one who can explain the meaning of these words?
    I mean, does the author try to say "if someone can explain these words, let him/her explain " ?
     

    Michelvar

    Quasimodo
    French / France
    It is very hard to understand such sentences in French...
    I'm sure this one would be hard for many French natives too.

    I mean, does the author try to say "if someone can explain these words, let him/her explain " ?
    Literally, yes. But the real meaning of this sentence is :

    "Couleur locale" and "caractère" have lost all meaning nowadays, I challenge anyone to prove me that they still mean something. lf someone is capable of explaining these words, may he do so, but I bet no one will be able to do it.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Yes, that's the idea: "I can't understand this (here, Miss Lydia's attitude), and I wonder if anyone (else) could." I think the French expresssion is in the imperative mood. Maybe "Can you believe it?" [Would this be +/- the same as "Bien malin qui pourrait comprendre cela." ?] For me, the words are "médiocre" and "à peine supérieurs aux cheminées des usines de Birmingham" to refer to La Transfiguration and Vesuvius in eruption.
     

    Akinci

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I have just found a extraordinary translation of it :)

    Early in the month of October, 181-, Colonel Sir Thomas Nevil, a distinguished Irish officer of the English army, alighted with his daughter at the Hôtel Beauveau, Marseilles, on their return from a tour in Italy. The perpetual and universal admiration of enthusiastic travelers has produced a sort of reaction, and many tourists, in their desire to appear singular, now take the nil admirari of Horace for their motto. To this dissatisfied class the colonel's only daughter, Miss Lydia, belonged. "The Transfiguration" had seemed to her mediocre, and Vesuvius in eruption an effect not greatly superior to that produced by the Birmingham factory chimneys. Her great objection to Italy, on the whole, was its lack of colour and character. My readers must discover the sense of these expressions as best they may. A few years ago I understood them very well myself, but at the present time I can make nothing of them.



    Prosper Mérimée : Works : Colomba
     
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