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It is nowadays common, in English, to use the expression "I was diagnosed with [cancer or whatever]".  It is inelegant, because it is the disease which is diagnosed, not the person.  I am trying to think what one would say in French.  "On a diagnostiqué un cancer" might do, if the context tells you who you're talking about.  But what if you want to make it clear that it is "I" who have the cancer?

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On a diagnostiqué un cancer à moi sounds childish and wouldn't be used by an adult unless you can't believe your ears and you would insist on "à moi ?" with a question mark "me, who doesn't smoke" for instance : ...à moi ?, moi qui ait toujours fait attention à tout etc...

on lui a diagnostiqué quoi ? un cancer  direct object

à qui? lui  indirect object

I meant, of course, that the "m[e]" in the original sentence was an indirect object.  Indeed, it's almost an ethic dative rather than an indirect object.  Compare fiche-moi la paix.

This series of replies appears to be in the wrong place for continuity.

On m'a diagnostiqué un cancer!

On m'a trouvé une tumeur!       Bénine ou maligne?      etc....



Hi Jean --

Having read your question and your reaction to the French translation, it seems to me that the underlying problem is that you've made an a priori assumption that certain elements of the sentence must encode certain elements of the concept/utterance being expressed. You're making this assumption a sticking point, whereas in reality it's not clear that there's any basis for your assumption.

I think it might help you to bear in mind that which structural positions (subject, direct object, indirect object, prepositional object, etc) are assigned to which constituents in a given utterance is essentially arbitrary. This means that:

(a) the same concept can be expressed with different elements assigned to different structural positions (subject, object, etc) of the sentence in different languages;

(b) in the same language, which items are assigned to which positions can change over time, or indeed can present different alternatives at any moment in a given language.

So as an example of (a): in English, one might say "I like your brother" ("your brother" is the complement), whereas in French one could commonly say "Ton frère me plaît" ("ton frère" is the subject) to express ostensibly the same idea. The 'mapping' between concepts and subject, object etc is arbitrary and, for example, the "subject" of the sentence is essentially just the element of the sentence that the verb agrees with.

As an example of (b), it turns out that the verb "like" has actual undergone a 'switch' over time as to which element is encoded as the subject vs object (so that once upon a time, the English verb "like" used to work like the French verb "plaire", so that "Your brother likes me" would once upon a time express what nowadays would be expressed by "I like your brother"). Or consider cases such as "The ball rolled down the hill" vs "He rolled the ball down the hill" -- in either case, the thing that is actually moving is still the ball.

The case with "diagnose" is roughly similar to the previous example: just as whether "the ball" is encoded as the subject or complement of the verb doesn't affect which physical object actually travels down the hill, similarly, whether the illness or patient is encoded as the subject/object of the sentence doesn't affect which of the two is actually the illness and which is the patient.

You seem to be starting from an overly simplistic model/expectation of how different parts of an utterance are encoded in a sentence, and this is leading you to invent problems/ambiguities that don't really exist...!

Dans le langage courant français on trouve ce type d'expression!

Moins formel le cancer est appelé le crabe....

Ne pas confondre Tu Meurs (sujet et verbe)  et Tumeur (nom féminin)

In french language :

..........  des suites d'une longue maladie...........

............ signe astrologique du Zodiaque...........

It's not the same thing!!!


hello ! Here is the point of view of a native speaker:

"on m'a diagnostiqué un cancer" is perfectly correct but will rarely be used in French for a very simple reason: The verb "diagnostiquer" is a technical medical therm for us and is not commonly used in everyday speech by people who are not health professionals or patients...

We prefer the verbs "avoir" or "trouver"

"on m'a trouvé un cancer"   "j'ai un cancer"  "Alors ? qu'est ce que tu as ?"

You may find it more in its passive form "j'ai été diagnostiqué d'un cancer" "elle a été diagnostiqué séropositive" but we don't like to use it because the use of "d'un/d'une" that follow  is linked to the pathology and many people don't even know how to write or pronounce them so the link is very tricky to make and we prefer to avoid it in normal conversation.

There is also a cultural thing in the fact that "disgnostic/diagnostiquer" is usually used to talk about serious health problems. The family doctor will tell you "vous avez la grippe" but will never talk about "dagnostic" for minor things.

So we linked the word "diagnostic" to something serious and threatening that's why we try to avoid it as much as possible except when we have to talk or write about a severe illness in a very serious/formal or technical way....

More general serious illness is something people are very shy about.  It's a very intimate taboo and people prefer to never talk about it with raw words or details. Even the patient will rarely directly say "j'ai un cancer", "j'ai été diagnostiqué d'un cancer" but prefer "je suis malade" if not talking with his close relatives or doctors....


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