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Sorry, but does anyone know how rude/vulgar the expression 'fils de chien' is? I'm not sure where to place it in comparison to similar Eng expressions these days...



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I've not read this expression for a long time. I think this expression is/was more often used by arab people speaking French (but it's just perhaps a cliché).

It's an insult meaning something like "son of a bitch". I read on wikipedia it can be translated in "hundason" (is it right?)

Hi Erwan, thanks for the reply. I looked at the link on Hundason, as I've never come across that, but I have to say I've never heard it used in English. What I'm really wondering is that when you use 'son of a bitch' as an insult in Eng, especially in writing, it is quite shocking still (unless it is used jokingly, which is possible too) - does 'fils d'un chien' have the same effect do you think or is it less shocking/insulting?

Merci bien!


I see it as something really insulting.

But I read an article where someone related an anecdote about her father. Her grandmother called him fils de chien but in a friendly way. Yet she thought it was a nasty insult.

I don't think it is usual but it could happen.

Hmm, yeah, and looking around a bit more on the internet I agree with you, it seems to be as insulting as son of a bitch usually is. The context I read it in is insulting, but wasn't sure whether to go so strong in English translation - but I think I will have to! (It's from a novel by the way)


I would say that "fils de chien" is a little less rude than "fils de pute" (the translation of 'son of a bitch'). Simply because the very words of "fils de pute" are already rude.

But, when I hear "fils de chien" said in a serious way, it is more hateful than "fils de pute" which is "just" insulting.

Thanks Lauris. I willl go for a strong option in English. Translating swear words etc is always tricky, getting the level/tone etc right! Thanks for the help.


I don't translate much fiction/films myself-- tends to be more "businessy" stuff-- but one thing I have noticed in various film translations is that there is a tendency for translators, possibly deliberately, to "tone down" the translations of expletives.


I've noticed it a few times that a word that is overtly vulgar/expletive in the source language becomes a more mild slang word in the translation (you can sometimes see this in foreign film screenings in cinemas when a few native speakers of the source language are giggling their heads off while the rest of the audience is sitting there bewildered as to what the big joke was).

Yes, in literary translation (novels as well as films) there is a definite tendancy to tone down vulgarity, as well as to standardise many other marked features of the source language so that it becomes more 'acceptable' to the target language reader/viewer. It's one of the biggest dilemmas of literary translation to my mind! Maybe one reason translated fiction is not popular...???



Well I've never heard it used in a sentence before, but it means son of a dog..though to be closer to english I think it would be fils de chienne meaning son of a bitch/female dog.


I'm sure there are much worse insults, I know a couple but won't put them here in case of sensitive eyes.


I'm far from an expert here, but Lauris - I think Fils de Pute  translates more accurately to 'Son of a Whore', same as Putana in italian which historically created the name for the pasta sauce 'Putanesca' :).


Needless to say, it's not flattering.



EDIT: Sorry Lauris, I misread your post earlier, totally agree with you!


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