Taisez-vous

Pyrocles

Member
English
An American teacher of French assures me that "taisez-vous" is a mild way of asking for silence, but a native speaker of French insists that it is fairly brutal, equivalent in brutality to "shut your trap" or even "shut your pie-hole"! The specific question arises when, in Act 1, Scene 7 of La Dame aux camélias, Marguerite is learning from her friends of Armand's having loved her from afar for two years before meeting her. Suddenly she tells her (as yet) unsuccessful suitor Varville, who has been playing agreeably enough on the piano, "Taisez-vous, Varville!" Note the exclamation point. Throughout the first act her treatment of Varville is savage, to the point of drawing the attention of others, one of whom tells her she is too hard on him. Just how rude is this particular exclamation?
 
  • Cath.S.

    Senior Member
    français de France
    In itself, it is neutral, it all depends on the tone used by the speaker and the situation.
    It could be either a way to simply ask for silence, because the situation requires it, as in:
    « Taisez-vous, j'entends des pas dehors ! »
    where you simply need silence to listen to something else,
    or to boss around the people you're addressing:
    « Mais monsieur, ce n'est pas moi, je...
    --Taisez-vous, jeune homme, vous parlerez lorsqu'on vous le demandera. »
     

    Pyrocles

    Member
    English
    That helps me. Thanks. I can be sure, then, that "Shut up" would be an inappropriate translation because it is rude and insulting under all circumstances, and "That will be quite enough" would also be wrong because it definitely implies irritation and is hence not neutral. Perhaps "Be quiet" might be the most colorless rendering, but it might be uttered in a tone of voice that would shock the decorum of a drawing room. Does that sound reasonable to you?
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    equivalent in brutality to "shut your trap" or even "shut your pie-hole"!

    Taisez-vous is standard register--whether or not it is said politely or bluntly.

    Shut your trap/pie-hole are much more colloquial and brutal; French has equivalent colloquial expressions but that is a different register.
     

    Meille

    Senior Member
    English
    Taisez-vous is standard register--whether or not it is said politely or bluntly.

    Shut your trap/pie-hole are much more colloquial and brutal :tick:; French has equivalent colloquial expressions but that is a different register.

    You could also say "quiet down", "keep it quiet" or just (and this may be the best fit) "Quiet!"
     

    mjoblo

    Member
    french
    Hello everybody!

    There's something I've been wondering for a while: Is it so rude to say "shut up" in English?
    Because if it's okay to translate it to French as "tais-toi" or "taisez-vous", it doesn't seem offensive at all to me, only informal.

    English teachers tend to make a fuss about it everytime they hear it, as if someone was cursing.
    As an English teacher myself, I really need to remove any ambiguity.
    Can you help me on that one?
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    No, mjoblo, I would not say Shut up! to students in a classroom unless I were extremely angry.

    Instead I might say:
    --Quiet please!
    --Please simmer down!
    (informal)
    --Shhhh!
     

    Nicomon

    Senior Member
    Langue française ♀
    Those, to me, would translate to :
    Calmez-vous s.v.p!
    Du calme, s.v.p.!
    Veuillez vous taire / vous calmer
    Shhhh!

    Taisez-vous !
    is standard register but more "blunt", or at least less polite.
    My non anglophone ear tells me that "be quiet!" is closer.

    Register wise, I would say shut up! if I meant to say in French fermez-la ! / la ferme !
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    I agree, but even "Be quiet!" with nothing more to soften it is still blunt--not quite as blunt as Shut up, but still rude.

    A teacher who has to scream that on a regular basis probably has lost respect from the students.
     

    mjoblo

    Member
    french
    Thanks Wildan 1 and Nicomon,

    But my question was about one classmate saying "shut up" to another one. I know students shouldn't do that in class, but is it really that rude?
    It's still not clear enough to me, as "shut up" is something we can say to a friend when we are surprised or when we don't believe it.
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    Yes, you can say Shut up! to express disbelief at hearing some surprising piece of news and that is not at all rude. When it is said, it is usually pronounced with equal strong emphasis on both words, unlike the other meaning.

    A student who says Shut up! to a friend to mean be be quiet might be rude, or just joking--it depends on the specific interaction.

    A teacher saying Shut up to a student or class will always be viewed as rude.
     

    mjoblo

    Member
    french
    As a mean of comparison, would you tell me if it corresponds better to the French "Tais-toi" or "Ferme la"?
    In the previous posts, they use both terms to translate it, but in French there's a huge difference between these, the latter being a lot more offensive than "Tais-toi".

    Thanks again!
     

    Nicomon

    Senior Member
    Langue française ♀
    As I wrote before, I personally equate Shut up! with Ferme la!

    In the joking sense that wildan wrote I'd say : Tais-toi donc ! Tu dis n'importe quoi.

    To mean disbelief, I'd rather say : Non! S'pas vrai ! than Tais-toi.
     
    Last edited:
    Top