paraître d’une grande froideur



I am translating a memoir in which the author describes the death of her parents when she was a child. She talks about how, over the years, she has developed various coping mechanisms to deal with this trauma – one of them being almost denying the fact that her parents ever existed.

I am struggling to really understand what she is saying in the part highlighted in bold in the following sentence –

"C’est ainsi que ce que me déchire le cœur pourra sans doute paraître d’une grande froideur. C’est une défense naturelle que j’ai tante utilisée ..."

I have switched the sentence around in my translation and I have written "This is why I may appear terribly cold with what breaks my heart.".

Or perhaps I should have stayed closer to the original French and wrote "This is why what breaks my heart may appear terribly cold"

As a native English speaker, my translation sounds off but I cannot find a better solution.

Thank you :)
  • Laurent2018

    Senior Member
    french belgium
    Your translation is understandable, the original sentence is not, as it is.
    The change you may bring to the latter, when translating, could be:
    ....might make me seem terribly cold.


    Senior Member
    French - France, ♀
    "C'est ainsi que ce que.." is different from "C'est pourquoi" (That is why...) ; it is more like Thus/as a result/consequently.

    "C’est ainsi que ce que me déchire le cœur pourra sans doute paraître d’une grande froideur".
    She really wrote "Ce que me déchire le cœur pourra..", and not "Ce qui déchire mon cœur" or "Mon cœur déchiré pourra paraître /Je pourra paraître..."
    → More or les litteraly: Thus, what my heart tears/risp or that part of me that my heart tears may seem terribly cold.

    My guess is that "Ce que me déchire le cœur / Ce que le cœur déchire en moi" (what her heart tears or breaks) is her conscience mind that she's trying to numb using her natural defence mechanism.
    Her heart tears something off her mind or even plits her mind, and as a result, she will appear to others as terribly cold, indifferent.
    Le cœur est aussi le siège du courage :)

    What comes before "C’est ainsi que" ?

    P.S. : Typo : "C’est une défense naturelle que j’ai tant (tellement) utilisée.". I hope "ce que" is not another typo ;)


    Senior Member
    french belgium
    Bien vu! Je n'avais même pas remarqué "ce que", j'ai automatiquement lu "ce qui" (peut-être parce que la phrase posait problème à Sparkle).
    Donc elle s'est fait un coeur dur qui (déchire...divise?) sa personnalité....? pas évident.

    On peut imaginer que lorsqu'elle perd un ami, ses mécanismes de défense se mettent à l'oeuvre aussi.