1. The forums will be closed for a major forum upgrade for around 2-4 hours on Sunday, starting around noon US Eastern Time (GMT -4, 18:00 in most of Europe). Details
    Dismiss Notice

un coucou en passant

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by iaorana, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. iaorana

    iaorana Senior Member

    Tahiti - Punaauia
    français Tahiti France
    Bonjour,
    Comment diriez-vous :
    "Un petit coucou en passant"

    Que pensez-vous de :
    - a little hello while passing through
    -a little hello by passing by

    Je vous remercie,
    Iaorana
     
  2. adjkale New Member

    USA
    English - USA
    "A little hello while passing through." <--- C'est parfait
    (aussi: "A little hello while passing by")

    "...by passing by" insinue "le petit coucou" est seulement possible avec des certains circonstances.
     
  3. misterk Moderator

    Boston, MA, USA
    English-American
    Welcome to the Forum, ioarana !

    Can you please describe in more detail the context in which this is said? Who says it to whom, in what situation?
     
  4. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    I personally would say : Just dropping by to say Hi!
     
  5. iaorana

    iaorana Senior Member

    Tahiti - Punaauia
    français Tahiti France
    Merci beaucoup de m'avoir répondu. C'est très gentil à vous.

    Pour le contexte:
    C'est tout simplement moi qui voulait saluer une amie américaine et je voulais lui envoyer le message sms suivant: "un petit coucou en passant" mais je me suis rendu compte que je ne savais pas le dire d'où ma question sur ce forum.
    Je voudrais aussi féliciter les concepteurs de wordreference et les participants qui répondent aux questions posées sur le forum comme vous.
     
  6. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    bjr iaorana - dans votre contexte vous pouvez envoyez le message "thinking of you!" ("je pense â vous")
     
  7. iaorana

    iaorana Senior Member

    Tahiti - Punaauia
    français Tahiti France
    Merci beaucoup!
     
  8. Saints22

    Saints22 Senior Member

    Mauritius c'est un plaisir
    French & English
    :tick:
     
  9. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    in the current context it would seem there is no 'dropping by' - just a text message
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
  10. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    I'd still say "dropping by" - to render the same idea as « en passant ».
    As on this card (one of many of the kind). The person sending it is not really "dropping by".

    Just as you can "drop a line", I think you can "drop a text message". ;)
     
  11. Saints22

    Saints22 Senior Member

    Mauritius c'est un plaisir
    French & English
    Hello Broglet,

    I am not a true native english speaker but I always thought that it didn't matter if we were truly dropping by and that it was just one of these set formulas that everyone says.


    In the expression above, I like the rhyming tones which is why i voted for it.
     
  12. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    If it is a set formula for a casual greeting it's not one I've ever come across. If I received a message "Just dropping by to say 'Hi' " I'd reply "When?"
     
  13. christelleny

    christelleny Senior Member

    Connecticut, USA
    French-France
    :tick:

    I agree. I actually purchased greeting cards with exactly the same message!
     
  14. iaorana

    iaorana Senior Member

    Tahiti - Punaauia
    français Tahiti France
    Merci bcq
     
  15. Itisi

    Itisi Senior Member

    Paris/Hastings UK
    English UK/French
    Ok, but that's nothing to do with dropping by, which is intransitive!

    I would say, 'Just to say hi/hello!' or 'Just saying hi/hello!'
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
  16. fripwoman Senior Member

    I agree with Itisi. Dropping by implies physical presence for me.
     
  17. fripwoman Senior Member

    As an anglophone, I would never say "just dropping by" unless I was physically present.
     
  18. Itisi

    Itisi Senior Member

    Paris/Hastings UK
    English UK/French
    Yes, that's what I like about it! ;)
     
  19. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    I wouldn't "drop by" via text message, either. It definitely suggests a physical presence--perhaps the card is acting that presence, but that's not what people would say spontaneously in a text message exchange.

    Just saying hi while I'm at it comes to mind for that context.
     
  20. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    You're right. Wrong example. However - I'm writing it for those who might not know, not you Itisi -
    while drop by is intransitive in "Just dropping by to say Hi!" it can also be used transitively.
    Same thing for this francophone. But it apparently isn't the case. My mistake.

    Still... I wouldn't bet my last dollar that nobody says - or rather writes - "Just dropping by to say this or that" unless they are physically present.
    May be those who do are all "non natives". :p

    I deleted my two previous posts. Sorry for those who quoted me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  21. Itisi

    Itisi Senior Member

    Paris/Hastings UK
    English UK/French
    Nico, sorry, but <drop by a friend's house> is not a transitive use; 'house' is not the object of 'dropping by'.

    (Four anglophones here agree that to 'drop by' implies physical presence; that must mean something? Still... it is true that people write all sorts of things...
     
  22. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Leaving aside the "dropping by" issues for a moment, I reflected on what I'd naturally say in iaorana's situation: probably ...
    - "Just a quick hello".
    That's close to Nico's (now deleted?) "Just wanted to say hi/hello".

    I wouldn't try to translate "en passant" directly. "Just a quick hello in passing" would be possible, but for me it would detract from the greeting, as if it were incidental and I sent it only because I happened to have my phone out for something else.:( For me, "Just a quick hello" covers both the ideas of "petit" and "en passant" in the original.

    I guess you and I use that phrase differently, wildan. If you sent that to me, I'd wonder "while he's at what?" I might use it in a context such as "I'm updating my contacts list, and I thought I'd just say hi while I'm at it."

    I agree with Itisi. (Where did you find that definition, Nico?)

    Actually, explaining "drop by a friend's house" grammatically is quite a challenge. Drop by is a phrasal verb, so the "by" is part of it, and isn't acting as a preposition to introduce the next phrase. But "a friend's house" isn't the direct object of the verb "drop by". On the other hand, "by the house" is a prepositional phrase, but it doesn't tell us where someone dropped! It's almost as if it's
    really "drop by, by a friend's house" (which would sound very odd), and the two occurrences of "by" have been fused into one, having two separate functions.:confused: Anyway, as you said, Nico, that doesn't apply to iaorana's example.

    Ws
     
  23. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    I understood that the original question was just that, Wordsmyth--during a text message exchange (which I assumed was about some topic or piece of business), a greeting was added "while she's at it."
     
  24. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    I like that solution, Ws. :) Incidentally, I reacted the same way you did to Wildan's "while I'm at it".

    I regretted deleting my post. So for those interested, this is what I had written.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Good point, Itisi. My example (to drop a line) wasn't a good one.

    And I'm well aware that "To drop by" usually means this :
    But it is by extension that we say it (at least on this side of the Atlantic) even if we're not actually "dropping by" physically.
    Which is also the case for the French « en passant », by the way.

    This is copied from this page of the WR dictionary:
    Of course we can say : Just wanted to say hi/hello (je voulais juste te faire un petit coucou) but it's missing « en passant ». ;)
    The example didn't come out of my mind. I copied it from this page. Now if we can't trust dictionaries... :(

    Given her initial attempts, I thought iaorana was looking for a way to translate « en passant ».
    Since I didn't like the literal "while passing by / in passing", I tried something else.

    Would "Just popping in to say Hi!" have been a more suitable possibility ? :oops:
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  25. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Having seen all the ensuing discussion I'm now more convinced than ever that a message simply saying "thinking of you!" should suit iaorana's purpose perfectly. All this talk of "dropping in/by", "popping in" and "while I'm at it" (at what?) seems quite inappropriate.

    Another possibility would be "Hi! :)" or even just a minimalist ":) "

    None of the words in iaorana's original phrase needs to be translated literally. It's the usual challenge for translators - what needs translating is the ideas, not the words, and the words can often lead you up the garden path.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  26. Carcassonnaise

    Carcassonnaise Senior Member

    France
    British English
    I agree with broglet (to stick an oar in)!
     
  27. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    Had iorana wanted to write « Je pense à toi » or « Salut ! », she wouldn't have enquired about « Un petit coucou en passant ».

    So either we try to translate (and fail at that) or we give a course on how to send the proper sms message,
    and remind old translators - as if they didn't know - that a literal translation doesn't always work. :rolleyes:

    A real - and totally wrong - literal/word for word translation would have been : A little hello in passing.
    But this is not what I initially suggested.

    Note to self : Nico, don't bother trying to translate French -> English. Leave that to the anglophones who know better.
    And don't trust all of those people (who I assume are not all francophones) who write on Twitter, blogs, forums, etc. :
    Just dropping by / popping in to say Hi!

    I move back to my : Just wanted to say hi/hello (je voulais juste te faire un petit coucou).
    I'm officially off this thread. And this time, I mean it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  28. Carcassonnaise

    Carcassonnaise Senior Member

    France
    British English
    I think... to stick another oar in... that translation is not about "translating words as they appear on a page", but rather about translating a natural thought in one language into an equivalent (ish) natural thought in another. So in French you say "un petit coucou en passant" as a casual greeting - but in English we don't say anything like those words to give a casual greeting. So in fact although iorana didn't want to write "je pense à toi" or "salut!" in French that is what she would actually say in English...

    So there you go :) But not "donc tu vas là"...
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
  29. Itisi

    Itisi Senior Member

    Paris/Hastings UK
    English UK/French
    Yes, to all of that!
     
  30. Carcassonnaise

    Carcassonnaise Senior Member

    France
    British English
    This comment will probably be deleted by a moderator but... what would the collective noun for translators be? A quandary, perhaps? Or a rumination? :)
     
  31. Itisi

    Itisi Senior Member

    Paris/Hastings UK
    English UK/French
    I suppose they consider forums, etc, as locations in space; but an sms, a letter, a card cannot be considered locations (well, that's how I see it...).


     
  32. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Ah, I see now. I'd assumed "Un petit coucou ..." would be the opening phrase of a message.

    Well, dictionary writers are only human, and therefore fallible (some more than others).;) In this case I think the 'transitive' definition must have been added hurriedly, or at least without much thought. But it doesn't really stand up to analysis.

    I know you said you're off this thread, Nico, but ... I'd have the same problem with "popping in" as with "dropping by" (the physical presence thing). But for people who happily drop by via card, mail or phone, then "popping in" would work just as well.

    Ws
     
  33. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    @Ws : You know I keep writing that I'm off a thread... and then can't resist the urge to come back. :rolleyes: So, thank you. :).
    I agree, of course. But I honestly thought from seeing all those greeting cards, and reading them on blogs and forums that expressions such as :
    dropping by/popping in to say Hi ! were "natural thoughts" as you put it.
    That they were sort of "set formulas" as Saints22 wrote (post 11), with or without the physical presence. Now, I know better.

    Hence my writing - although it took me a while, I admit - that I should stick to English -> French (which is 95 % of my translator's job).
    And mind my own business if the question is the other way round.

    @ itisi : sms, cards and letters aren't locations by themselves, but they are usually sent to a location. Are they not ?
    That said, I did write (post 24) that I like Wordsmith's solution of : Just a quick hello. And I agree entirely with this :
    More so than Thinking of you or a simple Hi! in my opinion. ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015

Share This Page

Loading...