People who live in glass houses

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by zixi, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. zixi Senior Member

    England English
    Hi all
    Is there anything like this saying in French?
    People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones
    […] it's a saying - un dicton courant. It means that when you have done something yourself you shouldn't criticise other people for doing the same - with the implication they can then criticse you. I've very stupidly used it to describe someone's behaviour to a French speaking friend and now I have to explain it. [...]
    I've gone through lists and list of French sayings and can't find anything like it. Perhaps it doesn't translate but my guess is that one of you will have an idea - you always do!

    Many with the implication they can then criticise you. I've very stupidly used it to describe someone's behaviour to a French speaking friend and now I have to explain it. Yes, I see the irony :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2013
  2. hibouette Senior Member

    France and French
    My try :
    Les gens qui vivent dans une bulle (ou dans du coton) ne devrait pas jeter la première pierre.

    Ceux qui naissent avec une cuillère en argent dans la bouche (= the rich ones)
  3. Foxynet Senior Member

    French - France
    Does this saying have the same meaning than "it's the teapot that calls the kettle black"?
    If so, I think French "equivalents" could be :
    - c'est la poêle qui se moque du chaudron en lui disant qu'il est noir
    - c'est l'hôpital qui se moque de la charité. (or is it la charité qui se moque de l'hôpital...?...)
    - “Comment peux-tu voir la paille qui est dans l’œil de ton frère, et ne pas apercevoir la poutre qui est dans ton œil”. It seems to come from the Evangile (??). "Hypocrite, ôte d'abord la poutre de ton œil ! Alors tu verras comment ôter la paille de l'œil de ton frère." [Mathieu, 7.5]
  4. zixi Senior Member

    England English
    Hi Foxynet
    I think there is a strong link between them though I probably notice a difference when I use them. I tend to use 'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' when people don't notice their own vulnerability.

    I think Hibouette's
    Les gens qui vivent dans une bulle ne devrait pas jeter la première pierre.
    is very close! And
    la charité qui se moque de l'hôpital...(or vice versa)
    because in both cases the neediness of the person making the criticisms isn't realised.

    Thanks for the extra sayings everyone - I just love them! No matter how many I come across they always please me. You learn such a lot about a culture from them and it has been one of the things that has shown me how close French and English really are - it's been the source of much pleasure.

    I now use a couple of French sayings in English - the nice thing is they 'work' in English - some just won't translate.


  5. carolineR

    carolineR Senior Member

    Indian Ocean
    L'expression vient de l'Evangile : Jésus, qui voyait lapider une femme adultère, dit : "que celui qui n'a jamais péché jette la première pierre"
    voir ici.
    L'idée des glass-houses est la même : c'est l'idée protestante que celui qui n'a rien à cacher (=qui n'a jamais péché) est bien rare à trouver.
    A noter que c'est également l'origine de l'absence de volets dans les pays protestants ( si volet = quelque chose à cacher), contrairement aux pays catholiques.
    La vie du bon Protestant doit pouvoir être ouverte/ visible aux yeux des autres :)
  6. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    This thread may help.
    I don't think anyone came up with a really convincing all-purpose translation into Italian though!

    I think that the biblical quote about casting the first stone has a quite different meaning from the proverb about glass houses. In 'let him that is without sin cast the first stone', the person who throws the stone is also sinful or culpable. In 'people in glass houses should not throw stones', the person in the glass house is merely vulnerable.
  7. zixi Senior Member

    England English
    Merci pour le lien carolineR ! J’aime beaucoup les dictons !

    Se16teddy – thanks – that looks interesting! You and I agree over the interpretation of the saying. I don’t see people in glass houses as hypocrites either – just as vulnerable and not realising that vulnerability. I’d use the pot calling the kettle black if I wanted to imply hypocrisy (actually, I’d just tell ‘em!!). Now to explain all this to my friend, in French ! It should be fun.
  8. Jean-Louis Senior Member

    I agree with Teddy. If you live in a glass house it can easily be broken by stones thrown at it. So you'd better be careful and not start the fight. And if you are not above reproach, better not to criticize others.
  9. delicious-baby Member

    Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones:
    Il faut être irréprochable pour critiquer autrui.
  10. edwingill Senior Member

    England English
    "mieux vaut balayer devant sa porte avant de critiquer".
  11. Glat64 Senior Member

    Vendée, France
    Another way of describing this saying is; if someone has a fragile reputation due to some dubious actions of their own in the past or presesent they sure as hell don't have the right to critisise others for similar behaviour.
  12. Tochka Senior Member

    Agreed, the expression does not come from the Gospels. I would tweak the explanation a bit, however, to add that there is an implication that the person is not just "merely vulnerable," but vulnerable to return attack, most likely of a similar kind, by his adversary. So there can be some overlap between the ideas expressed in "the pot calling the kettle black" or in Jesus' admonition, "let him who is without sin cast the first stone", it's just that the expression about glass houses covers a wider set of circumstances and, as teddy points out, the emphasis is on the vulnerability rather than the "sinfulness" or bad nature of the person's actions.

    As for the origin of the phrase, this wiki answers explanation seems credible. It traces the expression to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and also quotes what is apparently an English translation of Cervantes using the same imagery:
    Bien que la thèse proposée, que l'origine de la locution est lié au protestantisme, soit intéressante, j'ai des doutes qu'il y ait vraiment une connexion, ou au moins une qui est directe. (Et je note que la maison de mes ancêtres biens protestants dans une partie bien protestante du pays (settled by Scots-Irish), comme les maisons voisines, portait des volets sur les fenêtres et des rideaux à l'intérieur.;) )
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  13. Chris' Spokesperson Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    I remember a cunning journalist penning the amusing "People who live in glasnost shouldn't throw Estonians," way back in the mid-90s, in connection with some post-Soviet debate or another.

    Bref, j'aurais aimé trouver un équivalent français pour cette expression (l'expression de base, bien entendu) mais je crois que le mieux à faire c'est de l'employer en traduction littérale de manière à ce que son sens soit clair ; en effet, comme le traducteur de Cervantes a su si bien faire.
  14. Glat64 Senior Member

    Vendée, France
    Can also mean.... Don't criticise others, lest it lead to revelations - previously unknown.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2014

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