paying my dues

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Hello there,

I need your help to understand this expression in the following context : a girl has one stupid job after another. She repeats all the time, sighing, "paying my dues, paying my dues, paying my dues".

Would you please explain to me the meaning of this expression ?
 
  • edwingill

    Senior Member
    England English
    je paie mon dû.For example, perhaps the girl is intelligent but instead of going to university she led a dissolute life. She therefore did not have qualifications for a good job. She is paying her dues for leading a dissloute life instead of going to university.
     

    Chèvredansante

    Senior Member
    English
    It means that she is paying retribution for her past infractions. Il me semble qu'elle a fait qqch de mal auparavant, pour laquelle elle souffre, en travaillant à ces emplois-là.
     

    Kat LaQ

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I think of it slightly differently, not as a penalty for past offenses, but simply that you don't achieve success without hard work. You can't expect to start at the top, first you have to pay your dues, work hard, work your way up. I don't think there is any connotation of retribution or dissolution, not in English. Is there that connotation in French?

    Literally, to pay dues means to pay a small amount of money, often monthly, to support an organization. You pay dues to belong to a labor union, which I suspect is the source of this expression. You can also pay dues to belong to a professional organization.
     
    Thanks to all.

    I agree with Kat Laq because in the context, this girl did nothing wrong. She just want to be a model and she takes the jobs her agent find for her : stupid jobs as sandwich-woman, silent table to give apetizers, etc. She's just repeating this expression as a mantra because she has to go through this before finding a real job as a model.

    To Kat Laq : there isn't any meaning of dissolution in french.

    But I don't find the equivalent of this expression in french. I am afraid I have to create it. I found some examples but they don't satisfy me.

    Maybe I could use the well known french expression "c'est le métier qui rentre" which means "it's hard but I have to do it if I want to make it" ?
     

    polaire

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    "To pay one's dues," as some people have explained, is not a negative reflection on the employee. It describes the need for a person, usually a young newcomer, to do a lot of often meaningless "gruntwork" or "scutwork," for example, photocopying, answering the phone, getting coffee or any other boring, low-level work in an effort to be considered for better work in the future. It's a kind of rite-of-passage.

    I've always had the image of someone being required to pay dues in order to gain membership in a selective club. Here, obviously, the higher levels of the field are the club.

    As with many views of the workplace these days in America, people have become cynical. Often the statement "You've got to pay your dues" comes off as self-serving corporate :warning: b.s. :warning:


    In case the following was the source of the confusion, "to pay one's dues" is completely different from "to pay the wages of sin." In the second, the person is paying for some kind of past misconduct. The same is true for someone who is "paying the piper."
     

    Chèvredansante

    Senior Member
    English
    "To pay one's dues," as some people have explained, is not a negative reflection on the employee. It describes the need for a person, usually a young newcomer, to do a lot of often meaningless "gruntwork" or "scutwork," for example, photocopying, answering the phone, getting coffee or any other boring, low-level work in an effort to be considered for better work in the future. It's a kind of rite-of-passage.
    I would have never interpreted it like this.

    -----------------

    Je dirais que l'expression est tellement rare et... que l'intérpretion doit fort suivre très étroitement le cas.
     

    Cath.S.

    Senior Member
    français de France
    what do you think of c'est le métier qui rentre (?)
    J'en pense ce que j'en ai pensé lorsqu'Alpheratz l'a proposé tantôt, à savoir que cela veut dire que l'on subit des déboires parce que l'on est pas encore un vrai pro dans son domaine, donc je crois que l'idée est proche.
     
    To CarolineR : In France, one says "C'est le métier qui rentre" to a beginer when he/she's doing some mistake. For example, a girl is a waitress and break a glass. Her Chief would say "don't worry, c'est le métier qui rentre, particularly if the girl would be afraid of being punished or very embarrassed.
     

    RuK

    Senior Member
    English/lives France
    To chevredansante: the expression is really very common. I agree that it doesn't mean paying the wages of sin, and that it is usually a neutral statement, 'c'est le métier qui rentre' or 'il faut en passer par là'.
     

    carolineR

    Senior Member
    France
    J'en pense ce que j'en ai pensé lorsqu'Alpheratz l'a proposé tantôt, à savoir que cela veut dire que l'on subit des déboires parce que l'on est pas encore un vrai pro dans son domaine, donc je crois que l'idée est proche.
    Pardon, egueule, j'ai visiblement lu trop vite :( pas vu que ç'avait déjà été proposé
    To CarolineR : In France, one says "C'est le métier qui rentre" to a beginer when he/she's doing some mistake. For example, a girl is a waitress and break a glass. Her Chief would say "don't worry, c'est le métier qui rentre, particularly if the girl would be afraid of being punished or very embarrassed.
    Y'a pas que moi qui lis trop vite : Alpheratz, étant française, je connais le sens de l'expression "c'est le métier qui rentre" :D
     

    polaire

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    I would have never interpreted it like this.

    -----------------

    Je dirais que l'expression est tellement rare et... que l'intérpretion doit fort suivre très étroitement le cas.
    Sorry, there are few things that I'd insist on, but "paying your dues" is an extremely common expression in the U.S. and I've given a very good explanation of what it means in the context provided. If you search the Web you will find many examples.

    I think I was clear, but I discussed "to pay the wages of sin" and "to pay the piper" only because I thought those phrases were being confused with "to pay one's dues."
     

    moby dick

    Senior Member
    français france
    Comment puis-je traduire :
    Julia had trained at RADA and was now busy paying her dues

    Moderator note: this thread has been merged with the one above.
     
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    pikabou

    Senior Member
    france
    je sais pas ce que RADA veut dire ou est mais pour la fin de la phrase ce pourrait être qqch comme: "et s'emploie maintenant à rembourser ses dettes (ou ce qu'ell doit)"
     
    Hello Ria Bacon,

    Do you mean by "while she learns the trade" that now she's studying business or working as a business woman while she's a beginner as an actress ?

    If so, what about :

    Elle a été formée à l'Académie Royale d'art dramatique et enchaîne les petits rôles/boulots.
     

    lapatord

    New Member
    French
    Hi All, May I suggest "en tirer la leçon" which is really closed to "learning from mistakes", and very common in France.
    i.e : the girl repeats all the time, sighing, "en tirer la leçon, en tirer la leçon, en tirer la leçon"
    i.e: Julia had trained at RADA and "aujourd'hui en a tiré des leçons"

    That handy phrase is very respectful and includes a concept of 'no achievement without hard work'.

    Further options (depends if context is bad or good this time):
    If context slightly negative: "elle n'a que ce qu'elle mérite" or "elle en subit les conséquences".
    If context slightly positive: "elle en recoit les bénéfices" or "elle en récolte les fruits".
     
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