Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure

JojoKun

Member
France,French
Moderator note:
This thread has been created by merging existing threads.


Comment traduire "Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure."????

For a long time, I've been going to bed early.
What do you guys think about this translation?

Thank you so much in advance.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Spleen

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi. This famous phrase by Marcel Proust must already have an English translation since it's the first line of "Du côté de chez Swann". Your translation reads well but it doesn't capture the fact that "longtemps" doesn't usually go with "je me suis couché de bonne heure", an expression in the past tense.
    Hope this helps a bit.
     

    melu85

    Senior Member
    France/French
    Comment traduire "Longtemps,je me suis couché de bonne heure."????

    For a long time, I've been going to bed early. What do you guys think about this translation?

    Thank you so much in advance
    L'auteur fait référence à un temps révolu donc peut-être que le present perfect n'est pas la meilleure solution
     

    Arthur_J

    New Member
    English
    Some more ideas here:

    Then there is Proust’s distinctive use of the perfect tense, most famously in his first sentence: ‘Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.’ Scott Moncrieff went for: ‘For a long time I would go to bed early,’ Penguin for: ‘For a long time, I went to bed early.’ One might also have: ‘For a long time I used to go to bed early,’ or ‘Time was when I went to bed early’ or ‘Time and again, I have gone to bed early.’ Alternatively, one could settle for the option offered by one member of the public when, a few months ago, Penguin asked visitors to its website to have a go at translating the first sentence of Proust; ‘For absolutely bloody ages it was lights out early.’
     

    JojoKun

    Member
    France,French
    Thank you so much for your well-thought-out answers. And thank you very much caroy for this interesting link...
     

    Vomact

    Senior Member
    Hello, i have a sentence i'd like to translate into english, but with many questions about it.

    The sentence, which is not contained in any context, is the following :

    "Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure."

    It is not that hard to translate, several possibilities exist, but the real challenge lie in the time and adverb aspects ... i explain ...

    "Longtemps", may be translated by "for a long time", including the duration aspect, but in french, "longtemps" somewhat means there is a rupture with the present, which does not exist with "for a long time".

    "je me suis couché", the 'passé composé' can't be translated by a present perfect, or a past perfect ... the better choice i found was using a "used to + INF" form ...

    My first try would be : "For a long time, i used to sleep early in the evening."

    But i don't feel like it's exactly the same meaning as in the original sentence, and i'd like the opinions of native english speakers considering this sentence. Thank you ! :)
     

    gardian

    Banned
    English - Ireland
    I see no problem translating this literally.

    The verb is se coucher (= lie down, go to bed, 'retire', etc).
    Perfect tense here must be formed with etre rather than avoir.
    Me replacing se as it is the first person.

    For a long time I have slept
    is not so bad, considering that the story may be narrated
    by a character who is still purported to be alive.

    The issue to me is the interpretation of de bonne heure.
    While literally it suggests early, in other contexts it might mean at an time of the person's own choosing/convenience -- 'playboy' hours, in other words...

    We await opinions from French coucheurs/coucheuses.
     
    Last edited:

    Vomact

    Senior Member
    Well, in fact, this exercise doesn't concern the vocabulary, i mean, it could be "Longtemps, je me suis couché très tard" ... that it wudn't change much for my problem ...

    The interest of this is to find a correct translation to the ambiguity "Longtemps" used with this tense 'passé composé' which is similar to present perfect in its making, but very different in its meaning.

    So i have to find the best solution concerning the fact that this sentence is about something that happened in the past, for a certain duration of a time, but with a tense related both to past and present in french, suggesting a precise aspect ...
     

    Vomact

    Senior Member
    Longtemps je me couchais de bonne heure sounds better to me somehow, but I defer to your francophone expertise.

    For a long time I would go to bed early
    Well, in the case of your first sentence lies precisely the core of the problem :) In french, we wouldn't use the 'Imparfait' in such a sentence, not that it is wrong, but it would be either unusual or awaiting for an other element at the end introduced for example with a "...mais...", but it would still feel unatural.

    As for your try, i don't feel like it carries the same idea, "would go" seems too hypothetical i think, or at least, it doesn't carry the "every night, i went to bed early" idea ... ?
    The problem with this last solution is that the preterit suggests a precise period, from that precise day to this one ... when in french, it is quite undefined.

    (I'm thankful to you to try help me out of this, even if i seem to be only criticizing, but this one kinda gets on my nerves ^^)
     

    gardian

    Banned
    English - Ireland
    As you know English has a lavish array of continuous verb tenses.
    The choice of one of these tenses affects the temporal significance of main verb.

    For a long time I had been going to bed early . . .

    I think that this phrasing gives the clear suggestion of a longstanding habit that was broken, at some moment in the past, by other events.

    Is this of use to you ?
     

    Vomact

    Senior Member
    Ahem, thank you for the merging with the old subject, and i must admit i didn't do the research beforehand ... shame on me, didn't know it was a famous sentence, and therefore, i guess there is no good or bad answer, only different point of views and aspects.

    And thanks again Gardian, this one is quite good i think !

    I'll have my pick among everything that has been said, thanks to all again :)
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "For a long time I went to bed early."
    "For a long time it was my practice to go to bed early."
    "For many months/years/etc I went to bed early."

    All three sentences imply the necessary "rupture": they all refer to a period in the past.
     

    Lethe

    Member
    France (Français)
    In my opinion, "For a long time, I went to bed early" is the best translation.

    "Longtemps..." is a very simple sentence, without any flourish/complication, if you see what I mean. I think the translation should reflect that.

    "For a long time" doesn't bother me at all. The use of preterite tense makes it clear enough this habit stopped.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Well, in the case of your first sentence lies precisely the core of the problem :) In french, we wouldn't use the 'Imparfait' in such a sentence, not that it is wrong, but it would be either unusual or awaiting for an other element at the end introduced for example with a "...mais...", but it would still feel unatural.
    That's interesting - how would you say something like "when I was little I used to go to bed early"? I must admit that before reading your post I would have assumed it would be "je me couchais" - do you mean you would say "je me suis couché" as Proust does here?
     

    Dunlaying

    New Member
    English
    It does not translate . The closest I can get to it is;
    For some time I was in the habit of going to bed early .

    But Proust gives a feeling of timelessness with his opening sentence . It is very clever and puzzling .
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top