Table of Contents
§49. Present Participles
Read, ponder, and profit from this French Language File:
§50. Adjective Comparisons
For my own presentation of this same matter, see:
§51. Definite Demonstrative Pronoun
A.k.a. the DDP. See what I say in this file:
§52. Irregular Verbs Faire, Prendre
Faire has irregular spelling, or if you prefer irregular pronunciation, in the nous form of the present. The normal value of ai- in French is [e] or [ɛ]. For the present forms of this verb, the value is [ɛ], except for the nous form, where, exceptionally, its value is [ə].
For more on faire, see these Language Files:
For more on prendre, see:
1. in / by / while speaking French
2. in / by / while following the coasts
3. in / by / while abandoning the project
4. in / by / while obtaining data
5. in / by / while resisting the pressure
6. in / by / while abandoning it
7. in / by / while doing hizzer best
8. in / by / while saying these words
9. in / by / while providing oxygen
10. being difficult to do
11. the car having arrived
12. the event having occurred
13. in / by / while considering this case
14. in / by / while seeing the book
15. knowing the facts
16. in / by / while taking them
17. having finished the experiment
18. having found the solution
19. having left for London
20. in / by / while pretending to understand
On the meaning of false friend prétendre, which does not mean “to pretend,” see this file section on: pretendre.
21. Francis passed the test by studying French.
22. Peter watched (was watching) the TV while drinking coffee.
23. Having developed1 the new machine (apparatus), this scientist / contributed / has contributed / to the progress of our study.
24. Following2 the orders of their master, the two soldiers held themselves ready to throw the astrologer out the window.
25. Having been born in Paris of Swiss parents, Madame de Staël was one of the most important women of her time.3
26. In this way one obtains monoliths / that exert / exerting / only a vertical pressure.
27. Experimental psychology considers the conduct of the subject a function of the variables that characterize the organism (this word being taken in the largest sense and being capable4 of being replaced with “personality”).
The French verb considérer will regularly be followed by the word comme, even when in English we do not use the corresponding word “as.”
- Je vous considère comme mon meilleur ami. (I consider you my best friend.)
28. But at that moment I encountered obstacles as great as those that I wanted to escape.
29. I have found a method as simple as it is useful for doing all sorts of mathematical operations.
Note how the efficient aussi simple qu’utile works out in English as the somewhat more cumbersome “as elegant as it is useful.”
30. Carbon dioxide is much less active than oxygen.
31. The waves of the Mediterranean Sea are often as high as those of the Atlantic.
32. Halley’s Comet is the most famous of all comets.
33. There is, today, a power that raises itself (OR: rises) above the laws: it is that of political ambition.
34. The victories of the Count de Grasse contributed to those of Washington and LaFayette.
35. The authority of the government comes from the consent of those who have submitted to this authority.
36. All the fictions about the burning of Troy will never equal the reality of that of Moscow, according to Bonaparte.
37. The base of the exterior envelope of the sun is called the chromosphere; one passes from it to the photosphere5 through a thin intermediate zone, called the reversing layer.
38. After comparing the results of the test of one subject with those of other subjects, the job counselor makes a decision.
In French one takes a decision, one makes a choice: prendre une décision; faire un choix.
39. An isosceles triangle is one (“the one”) that has two equal sides.
40. France remains a member of the political alliance, but is no longer a part of the military organization.
In Switzerland p92
The Author gives us another selection from Germaine de Staël (De l’Allemagne 1.20).
 One must attribute a great part of the virtues of German Switzerland to the German character.6  Nevertheless there is more public spirit in Switzerland than in Germany, more patriotism, more energy, greater harmony of opinions and sentiments;  but also the smallness of the states and the poverty of the country in no way excites genius;  one finds far fewer learned persons and thinkers than in the north of Germany, where the very relaxation of political bonds gives rise7 to all the noble reveries, all the bold systems that are not subject to the nature of things.  The Swiss are not a poetical nation, and it is indeed astonishing that the admirable appearance8 of their country has not inflamed their imagination more.  All the same, a free and religious people are always capable of a kind of enthusiasm, and the material occupations of life couldn’t possibly stifle it (scil., the enthusiasm) altogether.9  One would be convinced of that by the Shepherds’ Memorial,10 which was celebrated last year in the middle of the lakes, in memory of the founder of Berne.
In sentence  I have translated ne sauraient as “couldn’t possibly.” Please learn “The Professor’s Rule For Translating Ne Saurait,” which you will find in the French Language file entitled Ne saurait.
 This city of Berne deserves more than ever the respect and interest of travelers. Its charitable establishments are perhaps the best run11 in Europe: the hospital is the most beautiful, and the only magnificent, building in the city.  Everything, in the city and in the canton of Berne, bears the mark of a serious and calm order, of a worthy and fatherly government.  An air of probity can be felt12 in every object one perceives; one feels at home in the midst of two hundred thousand souls, called13 nobles, townspeople, or peasants, but who are all equally devoted to their country.
The Encyclopedia: Political Authority p92
 No human bean has received from nature the right to give orders to others.  Liberty is a gift of heaven, and each individual has the right to enjoy it as soon as he enjoys reason.  If nature has established any authority,14 it was paternal power. But paternal power has its limits; and in the state of nature it would end as soon as the children were capable of guiding themselves.  All15 other authority comes from another origin than nature.  If one examines the matter well, one will always trace it16 back to one of these two sources: either the force17 or the violence of the one who has seized it; or the consent of those who have submitted18 by means of a real or supposed contract between them and the person to whom they have conceded authority.
 Power acquired by violence is nothing but19 a usurpation. It lasts only as long as the force of the one commanding is stronger than the force20 of those who obey,  such that, if the latter become the stronger ones in their turn, and (que = “if”) they shake off the yoke, they do so with justice.  The same law that made (the) authority undoes it as well, in that case; it is the law of whoever is stronger.21
 The dolphin’s brain is almost equal to ours. If they do not have a language in the strict sense (something that22 has not been proven), they can certainly communicate amongst themselves. They live long enough (20 to 30 years at least, as much as a prehistoric man) to acquire experience and knowledge.
Note the “concessive” or adversarial use of the “if-clause” in , and check out Part II of French Concessions.
 It is thanks to their system of echolocation that they can locate and seize their prey. The acoustic apparatus is in fact particularly well developed in dolphins. Their lives remain balanced thanks to a constant acoustical exploration made possible through echolocation. They are constantly listening, constantly on watch in the sea.  This sense is obviously the one23 that dominates with them. Hence one observes a great development in the auditory nerve, the eighth, which is the thickest of the cranial nerves. In the cortex, the auditory center is unusually wide. The ear is modified in order to function under water.
Note the translation of “Aussi” as “Hence” in the second sentence of , regarding which see Number 4 of Aussi, the Many Meanings of.
 Experiments have shown that dolphins perceived frequencies of 150 kilohertz (kHz): 150,000 vibrations per second. The limit of human hearing is from 14 to 16 kHz, which corresponds to a strident whistle blast. That of monkeys is 33 kHz, of cats 50, of mice 90. Only bats surpass dolphins in perceiving frequencies of 175 kHz.
 (La limite de l’audition)…des singes est de 33 kilohertz, des chats de 50, des souris de 90. – Note the three de that I do not translate. See the note to sentence  in Chapter 7.
 The social sense of dolphins and their attachment for each other have led people to think that they were inclined to help each other. We have witnessed very many scenes24 attesting to the solidarity of which marine mammals are capable.  Aboard the Calypso we have noticed on a number of occasions in the middle of the sea that, when a dolphin was wounded in a school, two or three of his companions would approach him to hold him up and help him.  The whole group would stop a short distance away and seemed to wait for what was going to happen.25 If, after a certain time, the two or three “relatives” or “friends” of the wounded dolphin did not succeed in getting him moving again, the entire school would resume its course.  Those who had been first to intervene had no choice but to abandon him, or else die themselves, for a dolphin cannot live alone in the sea, far from his fellows.
- The Author has Ayant développé here. I should have preferred En développant = “in / by / while developing.”
- The Author gives the form suivant here, past participle of suivre = “to follow,” hence “following.” However, suivant can also function as a preposition, with the meaning: “following, as per, according to.” The resulting difference is, to be sure, slight indeed.
- It was not, however, simply due to the fact that she was born in Paris of Swiss parents that Mme de Staël was important.
- There is no participial form of the English modal “can,” and consequently no other equivalent of pouvant than the inelegant “being (cap)able.”
- More literally, but more awkwardly, one would translate: “the passage from the latter to the photosphere is made…”
- This sentence is a good example of the French preference for periodic style (i.e., for putting the direct object at the very end of the construction).
- Or, more poetically: “gives flight.”
- Note (and note down) this older meaning of aspect = “appearance.”
- Mme de Staël, in contrast to the Enlightenment writers who preceded her, thought that enthusiasm was a good thing.
- That is to say, a day off work (French fête) dedicated to the glory of this group of people.
- The verb is soigner, meaning “to care for” (a sick person). These establishments being hospitals, I believe the meaning is (by a kind of transferred epithet) that the patients in them are really well cared for.
- Literally, “makes itself felt.” See the French Language File Causal Faire.
- “that one calls”
- I.e., “SOME authority” (quelque autorité).
- Or, perhaps, “any” (Toute).
- “it” = “this authority”
- Since in French the word force can mean, precisely, “violence,” the alternatives given by Diderot (la force ou la violence) may in fact be synonyms.
- “subjected themselves” (se sont soumis)
- See this part of a French Language File on Ne…que.
- The sequence of DDPs here(…aussi longtemps que la force de CELUI qui commande l’emporte sur CELLE de CEUX qui obéissent…), barely admissible thanks to the distinction of genders in French, would be much less clear in English; so I have replaced one of the DDPs by the noun it itself is replacing.
- Literally, “It is the law of the stronger/strongest” (la loi du plus fort).
- French: ce qui = “that which”
- Literally, C’est évidemment chez eux le sens = “This is obviously with them the sense…”
- Literally, “we have very often been witnesses to scenes”
- In other words, “to wait to see what would happen.”