On n'est plus à une heure près.

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by clairet, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. clairet

    clairet Senior Member

    London & Bordeaux
    England & English (UK version)
    "On n'est plus à une heure près." This is a complete sentence (Fottorino, Dix-sept ans, p.188 or 189 - hard to tell on my e-version) From the context, where this sentence begins a new section following a section which describes an event during a car journey made by the protagonist and his mother, and is followed by a couple of sentences describing how he followed some small roads and arrived at the destination, my guesses are that this means "It was just past one o'clock." or "It was about an hour later". But perhaps it means something completely different. Please advise me.

    If the answer isn't straightforward, I'll give some more context. I'm avoiding doing that since there is some complicated confusion of times and personalities in the mother's mind in the previous section which, in the straightforward case, will be irrelevant to the sentence I'm asking about, which is stated by the protagonist not the mother.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  2. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    "At this point, one more hour won't make much of a difference".

    "Être à X [quelque chose] près" literally means that you're so short of something (time, money, etc.) that you can't afford to spare even one unit (one minute, £1, etc.). Here, apparently they are getting very late so the narrator is saying (tongue in cheek) that one more hour (or one fewer hour) won't make a difference.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  3. clairet

    clairet Senior Member

    London & Bordeaux
    England & English (UK version)
    Thanks Oddmania. That could fit the more complicated context that I refer to, as a sort of throwaway remark noting his mother's confusion about time. However, it would help me to know if your translation of the sentence would be the same irrespective of context (as far as that's possible).
     
  4. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    That's a long shot. I don't think there's an equivalent to that phrase in English, so what a native English speaker would say in this situation depends heavily on the context and their personality as well. You might as well translate it as "So much for arriving on time!". It would be just as good.

    What's the sentence that comes immediately after that one?
     
  5. clairet

    clairet Senior Member

    London & Bordeaux
    England & English (UK version)
    "J’ai suivi les petites routes de montagne et, à force de tournis, on s’est retrouvés sur la petite place d’Ascros. Tes narines se sont mises à palpiter. Tu as juste dit « oh, Ascros », en plaquant tes deux mains contre ta poitrine." "Tes" refers to his mother. "Ascros" is a village which is highly significant in her life many decades earlier, when she was 17.

    I've just noticed your edit at your first reply (short of time etc) which helps to make sense. I now think it is likely that the complicated time confusion of the mother is relevant. I think the sentence I asked about (in the light of your comment about the literal meaning) may be saying in effect "after all these decades, one more hour won't make any difference". It may also refer to the particular confusion in the previous section. That's a lot packed into one little sentence. Many thanks for your very useful explanation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  6. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    Alright, it sounds very 'descriptive'. I don't think "So much for..." or "Here goes my hope to get there on time!" would be very appropriate. Honestly, I can't think of anything else than my first suggestion. Maybe an English speaker will come up with something more natural.
     
  7. clairet

    clairet Senior Member

    London & Bordeaux
    England & English (UK version)
    Fortunately, I'm only translating this sentence for my own understanding and my last comment was only expressing my literal understanding with the help of your comments. Your earlier suggestions are as natural English as I, as an anglophone, can imagine!
     
  8. moustic Senior Member

    near Limoges, Fr.
    British English
    Maybe you'll find some help at the bottom of this page where there are several threads for the expression à ... près.
    As Oddmania says the translation depends on the context.
    Here, I agree, the character is saying: we are already late so another hour won't make any difference.
     
  9. clairet

    clairet Senior Member

    London & Bordeaux
    England & English (UK version)
    Thank you, Moustic. From your references "We can spare an hour" looks good for a straightforward, context-free translation. But perhaps such things don't exist, as you say. In this case anyway, it would be quite inadequate for the context, where reference to the specific very long timescale - their lives - is, I'm sure, intended by the protagonist.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019

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