mal élevé

EmmaPeel

Senior Member
France - French
Hi all,

In french I regularly use the adjective "mal élevé" talking about a child or teenager (and even adults sometimes!) to say he/she doesn't behave properly (impolite, bad manners).

In french, it means that your parents didn't brought you up properly.

Is there an easy way to say that in English, so I could use it when I'm in the UK (quite often) ?

thank you in advance.
 
  • Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    In the US, which I understand is not your destination, you could use the very colloquial "raised in a barn." However, you are likely to give offense if you use the expression about other people's children. Is that not true of the French one as well?

    I might use it when my children misbehave in ways that I most certainly did not teach them. After putting a stop their behavior, I might give an embarrassed look to the observer and say "I really did not raise them in a barn."

    Or directly to a friend's child: "I know you were not...."
     

    Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I generally agree with Agnès for 'bad-mannered', although there are cultural differences that make it difficult to translate 'mal élevé' effectively. Being told you are 'bad-mannered' is just not much of a criticism in English and lacks the sting that 'mal élevé' has in French. (You might not think it has much sting in French, but it has a lot more than equivalents in English.)

    This was a problem of course back in the run-up to the Iraq war when Jacques Chirac called Tony Blair 'mal élevé' - quite a comment for one leader to make about another, but little short of laughable to the British whose media were unable to find a translation to do it justice.

    It's quite possible that manners and 'politesse' are just not valued in Anglo-Saxon societies like they are in France. Too bad, really.
     

    Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I was going to suggest using 'lout', but I prefer your 'brat'. Louts tend to be proud of their loutish behaviour. You don't want to encourage them. But 'brat' has a nice sting to it. (I'm sure it's what Jacques Chirac meant.)
     

    EmmaPeel

    Senior Member
    France - French
    Thank you all.

    I noticed that in the UK, nowadays, the 'whatever' attitude has replaced good manners in cities (well, in France too but here I can fight :D), unfortunately.

    So, basically, I can say that someone is bad-mannered, in a generic way.
    And in the specific purpose of pointing out at the parents,
    could I say "It seems that this one was raised in a barn" ?

    could I say to child: "I'm sure your mum didn't raise you in a barn, so stop behaving like this!" ?
     

    french4beth

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Aupick said:
    I generally agree with Agnès for 'bad-mannered', although there are cultural differences that make it difficult to translate 'mal élevé' effectively. Being told you are 'bad-mannered' is just not much of a criticism in English and lacks the sting that 'mal élevé' has in French. (You might not think it has much sting in French, but it has a lot more than equivalents in English.)

    This was a problem of course back in the run-up to the Iraq war when Jacques Chirac called Tony Blair 'mal élevé' - quite a comment for one leader to make about another, but little short of laughable to the British whose media were unable to find a translation to do it justice.

    It's quite possible that manners and 'politesse' are just not valued in Anglo-Saxon societies like they are in France. Too bad, really.

    Aupick, I take exception to your comment about manners not being valued in anglo societies :( - au contraire! Particularly in schools, showing respect and using proper manners are being emphasized more than ever! In our Forum, I see many examples of courtesy and politeness from our Anglo members (as well as franco members)...
    However, I believe that it's true internationally that no parent ever wants to hear someone criticize their children's behavior (even if the criticism is justified). :D
    If I may suggest - rather than putting a child (and/or nearby parent) on the defensive, simply stating in a calm voice, "That behavior is not appropriate." Children learn by example, and if we adults set a good example & reward good behavior instead of just criticizing inappropriate behavior (that has been perpetuated by the parent/caregiver), hopefully people would be nicer to each other.
    OK, the sermon is over!
     

    Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    Also found for "mal élevé"
    ill-man·nered (ĭl'măn'ərd)
    adj.
    Lacking or indicating a lack of good manners; rude.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Yes, I think "rude" has a sting to it. C'est mal élevé de parle à ton père dans ce ton.
     

    Amityville

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Donc ton père a de quoi se reprocher.

    I use mal élévé when I am thinking 'rude' (you know what I mean). I think badly-brought up is more wounding in English as it is a slight on your family/background/everything about you and is patronising as suggests "well you can't help being brought up like that, you don't know any better", whereas you alone are responsible for your bad manners and rudeness. I don't think mal élevé carries all that and just means rude.
     

    Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    Amityville said:
    Donc ton père a de quoi se reprocher.

    I use mal élévé when I am thinking 'rude' (you know what I mean). I think badly-brought up is more wounding in English as it is a slight on your family/background/everything about you and is patronising as suggests "well you can't help being brought up like that, you don't know any better", whereas you alone are responsible for your bad manners and rudeness. I don't think mal élevé carries all that and just means rude.

    C'est vrai que "mal élevé" évoque les causes de la grossièreté alors que "rude" se limite à qualifier le comportement.
     
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