The affair marches badly

Ali Smith

Senior Member
Urdu - Pakistan

What does “L’affaire marche.” mean? Literally, it’s “The matter walks.” Is this some sort of idiom in French?

  • Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    I was reading an Agatha Christie novel and a French-speaking character in it said, “The affair marches.”, which makes no sense in English. I’m guessing he was translating from his mother tongue.

    Chat Perché

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    It depends also on who is speaking, Ali.
    For instance, this could mean ' Business is doing well'. Another option is that 'matter' refers to the ongoing enquiry.

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the King's
    Have you quoted accurately? Isn't it Poirot (in 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd') saying "the affair marches badly"?
    ‘It is very good that – yes, it is very good. Listen, I do in verity believe that this husband of yours is innocent – but the affair marches badly. If I am to save him, I must know all there is to know – even if it should seem to make the case against him blacker than before.’ (arrounddate)

    "L'affaire marche mal" is not the same (idiomatically) as "l'affaire marche".

    Here: Things are going badly, things are not going well, it's not looking good for him.

    [Note: "the affair marches badly" and "in verity" are not, of course, English. They're the author's attempt to provide local colour in the form of a word-for-word translation of what Poirot might have said in French.]
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    Senior Member
    French - France, ♀
    I found this different passage in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd :

    Could Poirot mean "c'est une affaire qui marche" ?
    What "affair" is it about?