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I would appreciate a little nudge with the following sentence that, to me, reads ambiguously (i.e., is this a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down?) Source and era: From an 1821 Biographie Médicale:

"Quelques notes de l'auteur ajoutent un faible prix a cette traduction."

Is it: "A few of the author's notes add a bit of value to this translation," OR "The author's few notes add little [value] to this tanslation." ??


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It's a thumbs-down. La deuxième solution est la bonne : Some of the author's notes add little value to this translation

Is it possible that "quelques" is being used in the sense of "les quelques" ? (all ,or most , of the  few notes) .

Otherwise is it used in the sense of "quelques -uns" ?

Can it be taken either way?

I don't understand your "les quelques". "all" or "most of " would be translated in French by "toutes les notes" or "la plupart des notes".

Without a more precise context, it is difficult to get the meaning of "quelques"; besides the sentence itself is awkward.

I understand it as "quelques unes des notes".

Are you saying that "Les quelques notes de l'auteur ajoutent un faible prix a cette traduction."
would be bad French? I thought it was acceptable.

Maybe you mean it doesn't work in this context?

My english "translation" of "les quelques" (all ,or most , of the)  wasn't intended as  a translation -just as  a paraphrase.

Is it "les quelques notes de l'auteur" as you've just mentioned or "quelques notes" as your first post showed? because it's not the same.

Is the sentence a translation from English?

I don't say it's bad French, I'd say it is not so clear. It's strange to have "ajouter" (which in a way adds value as a positive thing) and "faible" which contradicts the effect of adding.

I'd rather say: " les quelques notes de l'auteur n'apportent pas une grande valeur à cette traduction" ou bien "apportent peu de valeur à cette traduction".

No it is just "quelques" -as was originally written by the author.

I was just wondering if "quelques..." can be used to mean "les quelques..." .

I felt in this sentence it could possibly be taken that way even if that had not necessarily been the intention of the author.

I think you're right. Anyway the sentence is ambiguous.

As in French "quelques" can be translated by "some" or "a few" according to the context, it's indeed the author's intention that counts.

Bonjour Sou et George Hunt,

Many thanks for your thoughtful replies. I suppose this ambiguous sentence is an instance of ironic reversal missing the target. In answer to Sou's questions: 1) The line, not a translation from English, is from a French biographical dictionary, in an entry about an English physician-author. 2) Its context overall is critical, even derisive. In the preceding paragraph one of the subject's works is described as "mediocre".

I am attaching a screen shot of the entire 4-paragraph entry, but I don't know whether it will transmit.

Merci encore


So the gist of it  seems to be that  ,without the author's notes  the publication would be entirely worthless,

The fact that his notes give some value to the overall work doesn't indicate that his notes have much value in themselves -just that they are the only thing of any worth in the work!


He could have twisted the knife a bit more if he had said the "notes" were references to other publications!


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