French Language

Discuss and learn French: French vocabulary, French grammar, French culture etc.

French Vocab Games app for iPhone/iPad French-English dictionary French grammar French vocab/phrases

For the latest updates, follow @FrenchUpdates on Twitter!

I have some questions about how certain phrases/sentences should be translated in French: 1. l'administration paternelle Is this the equivalent of 'civil service'? 2. J'étais un garçcon laborieux... Does laborieux mean 'hard-working' in this case? When I looked it up in the dictionary, the translation was 'laborious', implying difficult or requiring hard work rather than referring to a hard-working person. 3. Il y a eu un grand bal á la direction. What is meant by 'direction' in this case? In Spanish, 'direction' would be 'address'. The author was just talking about his boss's house and the parties he used to throw, so it would make sense if he is trying to say there was a grand ball at that place (address). However, I did not find this meaning for 'direction' in a French-English dictionary. 4. Mon project était de traverser doucement le salon, de m'esquiver à l'anglaise... My question has to do with the expression 'm'esquiver à l'anglaise'. Literally, this would seem to mean 'escape in the English way', but I assume it must have some colloquial meaning that is not obvious. (Does this mean the authors is casting aspersions on the English???)

Views: 777

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion



Administration paternelle : it’s not the “civil service”  (In France “service civil” is a kind of military period when young people are voluntary. In English I believe that it’s what we usually call “L’Administration” or “la haute administration” or “Fonction publique”)

But here “administration” means “management” because of the word behind that define “administration”

"Paternelle" means “from father”

I don’t know the context, but it usually means that his personal management (his money, his papers, …) is done by his father.



J’étais un garcon laborieux : yes it means “hard working” here. There are 2 meanings for “laborieux”  one’s implying difficult  for doing something and an other that means a hard-working person (when we speak about poeple).


Il y a eu un grand bal à la direction : it’s not the place (address), it’s rather a « bal » with only the direction staff, with only poeple who are working with the boss and his friends and other boss.


s'esquiver à l'anglaise... i believe that in great britain they have a similar idiomatic sentence “to take a french leave”. It means “disappear”, leave without say goodbye, without announcing his departure. No it’s not an aspersion on the English, it’s an known phrase. Relations between French and English are historical and intertwined.


In English, civil service has nothing to do with the military but refers to official positions in the government. Thus someone who administers a government program or works at a government office (for instance at the post office or as a lawyer who works for the government) would be called a civil servant. This is why I thought 'administration paternelle' might refer to a government position, with paternalle referring to the government rather than to someone's father. I will quote the sentence below:

'Aussi, après avoir fini mes études au lycée, on m'a mis comme employé dans l'administration paternelle. Je n'avais pas de vocation bien déterminée, et je me suis engagé docilement sur cette banale grande route de la bureaucratie, où mon grand-père avait lentement, mais sûrement cheminé.'

Scott - from the context of the last sentence, it sounds as if the person went into the family firm, as he hadn't any particular vocation and just sort of drifted into the family firm.  I've looked  in  my big Larousse dictionary and my Hachette but administration paternelle isn't in them. I even tried looking the English way round to find family firm, or family company, and that's not there either!  This is strange, as family firms are not unusual and I would have thought it would be in there.


oh, ok.

it's difficult to understand "administration paternelle"  here even in the context, because of the multiple meanings of "administration", but let's see.

paternel referring to the government :  i'd be surprised. it's not the mind in France, and because of at the later point when he speaks about his "grand-père".

"administration" in France is a government position to but not only.

(it includes all the jobs (public or private) and all the people who are working in management : people management, property management, goods management, information ... )

in the past, indeed, the public administration included the postal service, the telecoms services, tax offices, the "sécurité sociale", government offices, régional offices, ...

always in the past, this was common that when a man was working in an "administration" , his son was recruited. i think we are in this situation, it could be rather the "administration" where his father worked and his grand father has already worked.

l'administration paternelle = roughly: parent authority/control/raising on a child: échapper à l'administration paternelle: escape from parent control ...

J'étais un garçcon laborieux.. = not a brillant boy: your dictionnary is right

Il y a eu un grand bal á la direction. = ironical: a big meeting with the (top) management ...

Mon projet était de traverser doucement le salon, de m'esquiver à l'anglaise... = my plan was to cross slowly/stealthily the room/lounge and to take a french leave


Follow BitterCoffey on Twitter

© 2024   Created by Neil Coffey.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service