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En période de disette, à partir du mois de mars jusqu'aux premières pluies qui n'arrivent guère avant juillet, la vie reste végétative, et les chiens se contentent de bouillie de son de graminées.

I'm not certain what the last phrase of this sentence means?

My Translation Attempt: During times of food shortage, from the month of March until the first rains which arrive hardly before [just before] July, life remains vegetative, and the dogs are content with bran cereal from grass.

Context: This is from a doctoral thesis by a veterinarian, describing the diet of a primitive African hound kept by the Touareg nomads. The dog's diet corresponds with its masters means of sustenance, and during favorable times, the dog eats milk and cereal (millet, rice, sorghum). These dogs also eat grass (like a ruminant). During the hunt, they get the viscera and carcass from the killed game.

Anyone?  TIA, Mimi

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I think that in you translation you forgot to translate the word bouillie which means mush.

Bouillie can also mean cereal or porridge, or just  plain slurry - I used cereal. That phrase at the end of the sentence is complex, if you would read it again.

Are you sure there isn't a word missing? I think it would make more sense to say "bouille de son ou de graminées" ("a bran or grass mush"). Maybe "gruel" can work for "bouille"? I'd certainly avoid saying "bran cereal", which sounds more like a Kelloggs invention than mush given to dogs...!

I would probably not translate "se contentent de..." as "are content with" -- the idea is more like "they have to make do with..." -- i.e. they're not content as such, but that's what they're given so tough!

Thanks for your help, Neil.  I copied and pasted below, that sentence straight from the Thesis, so you can see for yourself if perhaps the original version has a missing word in it.

<En période de disette, à partir du mois de mars jusqu'aux premières pluies qui n'arrivent guère avant juillet,  la vie reste végétative, et les chiens se contentent de bouillie de son de graminées.>

I will take your suggestion and put in "gruel" instead of cereal and then make that consistent throughout the rest of the translated text. And I will add "or", as suggested. I'm going to stick with gruel instead of using the word mush, because the English translation is going to be then translated into German and gruel may perhaps  make it easier for that process.

I think you would have to go back to the original text to be sure. Obviously, "son de graminées" is perfectly grammatical -- but (and I'm not a botany expert, I should stress!) I'm just not sure it actually makes any sense.

I'm also suspecting that the precise botanical details are not crucial to the purpose of the text, on the other hand...

The doctoral thesis from which this sentence came was submitted in 1975.  Perhaps when it got typed there was an error that the good vet did not catch, or perhaps when the thesis was later scanned something went a-missing, we know about scanning ;).

From what we know about the diet of these primitive dogs, that phrase does not make sense, because the Touaregs did not boil grass for the dogs, they only cooked grains for them, primarily millet and sometimes rice or sorghum.

I think the missing "ou" that you pointed out is our best guess, because bran cannot be made from grass, bran is part of the grain, so "son de graminées" makes no sense (and one does not have to be a botanical expert to say that), but, "bouillie de son ou de graminées" does.

Thanks, Neil, for coming through, and thanks also to Erwan :).


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