It's like pissing in the wind

njcaviet

Senior Member
English, UK
In the dictionary, it says the translation for this is "c'est comme si on pissait dans un violon"... I'm sure this is right, but I don't actually understand the image in French. In English, "pissing in the wind" evokes an act that if carried out, will literally blow back on you in a not so nice way. How does the image of violin work in French?
 
  • bunnie

    Senior Member
    french
    It means that something is totally useless, like pissing in a violin in order to try playing music
    hope this help
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    C'est comme pisser dans un violon - for me it means that it's useless, not that it will get back at you like it would with the wind thing! :eek: :rolleyes:

    I've just found a proverb that I didn't know but would perfectly fit the context: à pisser contre le vent, on mouille sa chemise... Which the TLFi gives as a synonymous for Quand on crache en l'air, ça vous retombe sur le nez - this last one I had heard before.
     

    doodlebugger

    Senior Member
    France
    The translation is incorrect.
    Pisser dans un violon means doing something completely useless.
    Je me tue à leur expliquer, mais c'est comme si je pissai dans un violon (ils ne comprennent pas).
     

    Bastoune

    Senior Member
    French & English - Canada
    Can you think of anything more useless than urinating into a violin? I think that’s the whole point of the expression! It doesn't help you play music, it is not the proper receptical for bodily waste... and it ruins your violin!!! (Please note, I'm trying to be sarcastic here, too!)
     

    calamitijenn

    Senior Member
    I've never the expression "c'est comme si on pissait dans un violon", but to what i know, it means "it's like doing nothing", "it can't have any result", "it's of no use". Hence the image, that doesn't make any sense.

    So, it seems that it's not the exact translation of "pissing in the wind"...
     

    njcaviet

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Ah! That sounds perfect geve! Thanks :)

    I agree, the violin translation is not quite right in most contexts for "pissing in the wind"... think I need to get myself a new dictionary!
     

    djweaverbeaver

    Senior Member
    English Atlanta, GA USA
    @Oudyd,

    I don't think it's quite the same. To dig one's own grave means to do something harmful or stupid that will cause one's own ruin or downfall, whereas to be pissing in the wind means to be doing something that is a complete waste of time and effort when there's no hope of it succeeding, and it might even backfire on you. It's not necessarily harmful or dangerous. There's also a mildly nicer version with to be spitting in(to) the wind.
     

    iuytr

    Senior Member
    french
    There are some equivalent expressions in french focusing on the meaning "backfire on you". I specially like : qui pisse au vent se rince les dents :D
    But i thought the english "pissing in the wind" expresses more : doing something with no hope of success which is the french pisser dans un violon.

    I can't find a french expression with the two meanings altogether.
     

    djweaverbeaver

    Senior Member
    English Atlanta, GA USA
    @iuytr, the backfiring part won't necessarily happen. I was just trying to explain to the poster that creuser sa tombe isn't quite the same thing. I think pisser dans un violon is more or less equivalent.
     

    Enjay

    Member
    English - UK
    I had always thought that the English expression was “pissing into the wind” – it won’t go far and is very likely to blow back at you! – and the equivalent French expression was “cracher en l’air” – as explained by wherezpeaceat.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I see "pisser dans un violon" just as doing something that is stupid and useless. I don't think the French expression has the idea of "backfiring".
     
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