Table of Contents
§70. Relative Pronouns
Read and digest the French Language File Relative Pronouns.
The author’s account is fair enough, although the little table at the bottom of p128 is highly misleading. In fact, qui can be translated as “who,” “which,” or “that,” depending on its antecedent; likewise, que can be “who,” “which,” or “that,” depending on its antecedent; even lequel (though it is the usual form to replace a thing after a preposition) can be used to refer to a person, and so conceivably be translatable as “who,” “which,” or “that.”
§71. Gender as It Affects Meaning
A useful list. In my estimation the following are the most likely to trip you up:
- le critique (the critic), la critique (criticism [including: critics as a group])
- Can la critique also mean “the female critic”? I do not find that meaning in the TLFi article.
- le livre (the book), la livre (the pound [the weight and the currency])
- le mode (the [grammatical] mood, the manner), la mode (fashion)
- le parti (the political party), la partie (the part)
- The masculine noun parti, starting from the general idea of “profit that falls to a person” (his “share”), can mean:
- “profit,” in the verbal phrase tirer parti de = “to profit from”
- un parti = “a marriage match”; un bon parti, un beau parti = “a good match”
- “a course of action.” Dans ces circonstances, on ne sait quel parti prendre. (In these circumstances, one doesn’t know what course of action one should take.)
- The masculine noun parti, starting from the general idea of “profit that falls to a person” (his “share”), can mean:
I will add:
- le mystique (the mystic = the spiritual adept), la mystique (mysticism, spirituality)
- Occasionally, la mystique can also mean “the female mystic.”
§72. The Adjective Tout (All)
See the French Language File Tout sur tout.
§73. The Verb Ouvrir (To Open)
See what I have to say at Verbs of the Ouvrir/Offrir Type.
1. The person who is looking at this statue is a German tourist.
2. The person / that / whom / (—-) / the tourists are looking at is their guide.
3. An isosceles triangle is one that has two equal sides.
4. It is a silence that no noise troubles. (It is a silence troubled by no noise.)
5. There is no people that / makes / is making / progress as rapid as the Americans.
6. What strikes me is the large size of the industrial enterprises.
 Ce qui…, c’est… – In all such sentences of the pattern Ce qui…, c’est… or Ce que…, c’est…, the second ce is never translated; it is merely taking up again the first ce, a repetition that happens because French doesn’t like to have a pronoun subject so far from its verb. See some more examples here; see also exercise sentence 14 below.
7. A traveller who had spent the day in the rain arrived at an inn around midnight.
8. Behold / Here are / the ores that one finds (that are found) on the island of Sri Lanka.
9. Oxygen is a gas that forms the active part of the atmosphere.
10. The probability (that) the statisticians are looking for is not easy to calculate.
11. This little island, called the Île de la Motte1 in Neuchâtel, is not very well known to the French.
12. The astrologer / was doing / did / what the king could not do.
13. The bus (that) my friends took will arrive in Nice this evening.
14. What one finds in America is an applied literature.
15. It is an ellipsis / described by the earth / (that) the earth describes / as it turns around the sun.
16. The passersby were looking at the place (that) we had just left.
17. All physical experiments / All physics experiments / require costly equipment.2
18. Any / Every / financial problem must be solved immediately.
19. They have opened all the theater doors (All the theater doors have been opened); they are / still / always / open.
20. I have read all the books I have been given [as gifts]3 (that one has given to me).
Offrir is the verb usually used for “to give (a gift),” as here in sentence 20: J’ai lu tous les livres qu’on m’a offerts. Same goes for sentence 22 below.
21. I admire enormously all the detective novels (that) Agatha Christie wrote.
The Author introduced inversion after que in chapter 10 §54C p96 and I talk about it here. See also sentence 23 below.
22. The young man gave [as gifts] all these flowers to his girlfriend.
23. The continent (that) Christopher Columbus discovered was America.
24. Everyone knows that it was Professor Einstein who discovered the formula E = mc².
25. All cats are grey in the dark.
Generative Linguistics p132
 In his work Syntactical Structures, Noam Chomsky introduces the first transformations into syntactical description.  His concepts of competence and performance, of surface structure and deep structure, organize linguistic phenomena into a new theory of the whole. A new movement / has been / is / born: generative linguistics.
 dans la description syntaxique – Another example of how dans (like en and à) can be mean “into,” given the right kind of verb.
 constituent en une theorie d’ensemble nouvelle des phénomènes linguistiques. – I take des phénomènes linguistiques to be the direct object of the verb constituent; it comes at the end of the clause, where French syntax prefers for direct objects to be (see this notebox in Chapter 6). nouvelle has to be modifying théorie, because ensemble as a noun is masculine. constituent I translated as “organize.”
 celui de la linguistique générative – For advice on how to translate the definite demonstrative pronoun (introduced by the Author in Chapter 9), see the note box titled “When in Doubt” in the Language File on this form. Here, rather than translating celui as “that” or “the one” or “the movement,” it seemed easiest to drop it altogether.
 The rapid diffusion of the generative linguistics movement in Europe can be explained not only through a very general European tendency to be open to American conceptions, but also through certain aspects of the generative theory itself.  For example, it coincides with certain old traditions of grammar, at the same time that it rediscovers, in new forms, concepts linked to the development of European structural linguistics.
 elle renoue avec… – Renouer avec literally means something like “to tie up again with.” So, metaphorically, the subject of the verb links up again (forms a knot) with something it used to be connected with (or could theoretically have been connected with whether or not it was in reality, because the other thing has been around for a while).
Meanwhile, nouer means “to tie” (e.g., shoelaces) or “to form” (alliances, bonds); le nœud is “knot.”
 Generative linguistics has made possible undeniable progress in the understanding of syntactical phenomena:  it has reinterpreted and deepened the discoveries of structuralism along phonological lines: and it has given, lastly, a new impetus to psycholinguistics and applied linguistics.  However, despite the many studies undertaken in semantics, it is in this domain – or rather, in that of the relationship between grammar and semantics – that the most pronounced difficulties of the generative theory appear.
 a permis – As I have said elsewhere (Quick Tip to exercise sentence 16 in Chapter 7), “French uses permettre where in English we might use ‘to enable’ or ‘to make possible.'” This is particularly the case when the subject is not a person.
 en phonologies – This phrase I have translated somewhat elaborately as “along phonological lines.” The force of the en appears to be “as” or “in the way of.”
 Linguistics is currently aiming at the resolution of these problems, which are themselves the [a] source of theoretical perspectives (generative semantics).
Candide, or: Optimism p133
What need I say about Voltaire, a.k.a. François-Marie Arouet, who, with all his limitations, championed the oppressed, some of them anyway, in notable ways, and made important advances in historiography and investigative reporting? In addition to which, many of his texts are hilarious, in a witty-ironical way.
Literary French of the 18th century is essentially the same as literary French of the 20th and 21st, and Voltaire is an 18th-century person who writes commendable, quite straightforward (apart from the irony) prose. Hence I am given to saying that a reasonable goal for a person such as you is to be able to read 18th-century Voltaire’s French fairly easily.
The author says (on page 135) that this text is “d’après Voltaire”; in fact the only change he has made is to omit part of the first paragraph. For the missing sentences you can go here (at Wikisource).
CHAPTER I. How Candide was brought up in a fine château, and how he was chased thence
Chapter title: chassé – The verb chasser has two equivalents in English: 1) “to hunt = to chase after”; 2) “to chase away = cause to flee, get rid of.”
- chasser un animal (to hunt an animal)
- chasser l’intru (to get rid of the intruder)
 There was [once] in Westphalia, in the château of the Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, a young boy to whom nature had given the mildest of manners.  His judgment was sound enough, but he was very simple-minded: I believe this is why they called him Candide [=naïve].
 douces – masculine, doux. The first meaning of the word is “sweet” (especially: to the taste), but like its Latin ancestor dulcis it has the additional meanings (and in a number of domains) “not harsh; pleasant; mild, gentle.”
 droit – As an adjective, has the meanings: straight (as, a line); direct (as, a path); upright (as, a position); upright (in other senses). As a feminine noun (la droite), it means “right” as opposed to “left” (la gauche). The masculine noun droit means: 1) law = jurisprudence; 2) a (legal) right.
 My lord the Baron was one of the most powerful lords of Westphalia, for his château had a door and windows.  His great hall itself was adorned with a tapestry.  All the dogs of his farmyards made up a hunting pack at need; his stable-boys were his huntsmen; the village priest was his court chaplain.  They all called him My Lord, and they laughed when he told stories.
 The Baroness, who weighed about 350 pounds, won thereby a great deal of consideration, and did the honors of the house with a dignity that made it yet more respectable.  Her daughter Cunegonde, 17 years old, was pink-cheeked, fresh, plump, appetizing.  The baron’s son seemed in everything worthy of his father.  The tutor, Pangloss, was the oracle of the house, and the little Candide listened to his lessons with all the trustfulness of his age and his character.
 par là – means, literally, “that way = in that direction”; figuratively, “by that means.”
 avec toute la bonne foi – bonne foi means basically “lack of double dealing, sincerity, saying what you mean.”
 Pangloss taught meta…nigology.4  He was wont to prove admirably that there was no effect [consequence] without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the château of the baron was the finest of châteaux and the baroness the best of all possible baronesses.
 Pangloss enseignait la métaphysico-théologico-cosmolo-nigologie. – Since Voltaire is making fun of all things German in this part of the story, it is appropriate that he should make fun of the best-known recent German philosopher, namely Leibniz (†1716), who among other things was famous for defending philosophical optimism. In some respects following along paths laid out by Descartes, Leibniz wrote a great deal in a great number of different fields, mathematical, scientific, philosophical, and theological, and aspired generally to a complete and integrated understanding of everything. Voltaire was more in tune with the more pragmatic, less all-encompassing approach of English thinkers such as Locke (and Newton), and in addition had turned against optimism as a result of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, about which he wrote a poem. (In his verse critique of philosophical optimism, Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne, he mentions Leibnitz by name.)
 le meilleur des mondes possibles – The “all” of the English “the best of all possible worlds” is added to get across the force of the definite article les embedded in the contracted form des; the use of the definite article implies that the “entire set” of possible worlds is being referred to. (See, if you think it will be helpful, the French Language topic French Definite Articles Rationalized.) — Le Meilleur des mondes is the title of the French translation of Huxley’s Brave New World, chosen on the presumption that a famous phrase from Voltaire’s Candide will be more within the reach of the average French reader than a famous phrase from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Leibnitz wrote equally readily in German, Latin, and French. If you want to try your hand at some philosophical French, you could do worse than Leibnitz. Two French works by Leibnitz that contain his ideas about the goodness of God and the world, and that could have been available to Voltaire (though not in the original French for the second of the two) are his Théodicée (1710) and his Monodologie (Latin translation published 1721).
 “It is [has been] demonstrated,” he would say, “that things cannot be otherwise: for, everything being made for an end, everything is necessarily for the best end. You will note that noses were made to uphold glasses; consequently, we have glasses.  Legs were visibly instituted to have pants on them, and we have pants.  Stones were formed to be cut and made into châteaux; hence milord has a very fine château; the greatest baron of the province has to be the best housed; and, pigs being made to be eaten, we eat pork all the year:  consequently, those who have maintained that everything is fine have spoken foolishly; they should have said that everything is in the best possible state.
[46, 48] aussi – For the meaning of aussi when it comes at the head of clause, see the Language File Aussi, the Many Meanings of, Part 4.
Candide, continuation p134
 Candide listened carefully, and believed in all innocence: for he found Mlle Cunegonde extremely beautiful, although he was never so bold as to tell her so.  He concluded that, after the happiness of having been born the Baron of Th …, the second degree of happiness was to be Mlle C; the third, to see her every day; and the fourth to [be able to] hear Master Pangloss, the greatest philosopher of the province, and consequently of the whole earth.
 One day, Cunegonde, while walking near the chateau, in a little wood they referred to as a park, saw Doctor Pangloss in the brushwood giving a lesson in experimental physics to her mother’s chambermaid, a little brunette (who was) very pretty and very docile.  As Mlle C had a great talent for the sciences, she noted without daring to breathe the repeated experiments to/of which she was the witness; she saw clearly the sufficient reason of the doctor, the effects and the causes, and turned back quite agitated, pensive, filled with the desire for instruction, thinking that she could very well be the sufficient reason of young Candide, who could likewise be hers.
 la raison suffisante du docteur, les effets et les causes – Voltaire is of course playing with what are important technical terms in Leibnitz.
 tout agitée, toute pensive, toute remplie… – On this usage, see the French Language topic Tout as an Adverb. (See also:  une grâce toute particulière.)
 pourrait bien être – See the Language file Bien, the Many Uses of, in particular Part III. “Very” and Part IV. Makes a Verb Emphatic.
 She met Candide as she was returning to the chateau, and blushed; Candide blushed too; she said hello to him with a halting voice [with a catch in her voice], and Candide spoke to her without knowing what he was saying.  The next day, after dinner, as everyone was leaving the table, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen; Cunegonde dropped her handkerchief, Candide picked it up;  she innocently took his hand, the young man innocently kissed the young lady’s hand with a vivacity, a feeling, a grace (that were) quite exceptional; their lips [mouths] met, their eyes flashed, their knees trembled, their hands wandered.  The Baron of Th … passed by the screen and, seeing this cause and this effect, chased Candide from the château with great kicks to the seat of his pants;  Cunegonde fainted; she was slapped by the baroness as soon as she came to; and all was consternation in the finest and pleasantest of all possible châteaux.
 rougit… rougit… dit… – These verbs could be in the present, but all the other verbs in this paragraph are in the past, so it is best to interpret them as being in the passé simple.
 elle lui prit innocemment la main – With parts of the body, French prefers to use the definite article, not the possessive adjective, and to indicate to whom the body part belongs by means of the indirect object. “Innocently she took the hand (belonging) to him” = “his hand.”
 avec une vivacité, une sensibilité, une grâce toute particulière – I interpret particulière to refer to all three preceding nouns, vivacité, sensibilité, and grâce. According to a later convention, an adjective modifying more than one noun should agree with them all (take the plural, and appear in the masculine if any of the nouns is masculine). This feature of modern French can be an aid in figuring out a the precise meaning of a text.
- la motte = “clod, sod”↩
- ?? Well, not the ones you can do at home, like those in these YouTube clips. Perhaps, however, a particular, already identified set of experiments are being referred to: “All the (= these) physics experiments…”↩
- offrir is the usual verb used with “gift.”↩
- Nigaud, pronounced [nigo], = “fool”↩
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