"Il sert de frontière."

Translation:It serves as a border.

1/27/2013, 2:35:30 AM

55 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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"Il sert de frontière" probably relates to a masculine, geographical element like "un fleuve" (river) or "un glacier", "un canal" (channel), "un pont" (bridge) which is used as (serves as, constitutes, stands for, marks... ?) the border (boundary), between two countries/regions.

Quote: "The witness and his family nevertheless managed to cross the bridge that served as the border and went to Bujumbura"

4/15/2013, 6:13:12 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/lukman.A
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[QUESTION]

In this sentence case, why isn't "...as a frontier" translated to be "...comme une frontière"?

12/20/2014, 12:52:39 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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"servir de" + noun or "utiliser comme" + noun drop the article.

12/20/2014, 2:02:02 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Yandarn2

This makes absolutely no sense in English! "It is used as a frontier" huh?

1/27/2013, 2:35:30 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/nat10sk2
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I agree, "border" would be a better translation in this case.

1/29/2013, 3:39:02 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
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https://www.duolingo.com/sdrc22

We all get that "frontier" can also be defined as border in the antiquated sense. No one uses the word with that meaning anymore. Perhaps it was used in this context several centuries ago, but in present day, common language...NEVER EVER. As a matter of fact, I doubt even 10% of American English speakers are/were aware that this is one of the meanings of frontier. It only means a place that/where few people are/have been; a region relatively untapped (either in the abstract sense or real sense).

Then throw into this equation that "de" is used for "as a" instead "of the" and that there is no article...it is very difficult, and surprising to say the least.

Moreover, for me, I just wonder if this is truly a "real" sentence that one would likely hear in a French-speaking country.

10/1/2013, 4:29:35 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
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I don't understand what you're trying to say or why it is directed at me. If you have a problem with Duolingo including the word "frontier" because you don't think anyone ever uses it, then use the report option or the "Support" tab on the left of the screen and let them know. I don't work for Duolingo and have I no control over their sentences.

All I did was offer a dictionary link to Yandarn so that he/she can figure out the meaning of the sentence, because "It is used as a frontier" makes perfect sense in English if you know what a frontier is. Whether one would use it in today's day and age it irrelevant as you could easily see it written in a history book, a psychology book, or hear it in an episode of Star Trek.

The "de" - "as a" issue was addressed in the comments already. Look for my post where I relay a message from Sitesurf.

If you want to know if it is a "real" sentence that one would hear in a French-speaking country, Sitesurf gave everyone a perfectly good example at the top of this discussion. Additionally, here are some random samples (taken from books published since the year 2000) from the internet:

  • "Le Rhin qui a un statut de fleuve d'Europe car il sert de frontière naturelle entre la France et l'Allemagne, mais également entre l'Allemagne et la Suisse ainsi que la Suisse et l'Autriche."
  • "Il sert de frontière indécise entre les grandes principautés : la Normandie au nord, le Maine et l'Anjou au sud et au sud-ouest, le comté de Blois-Tours et Chartres à l'est."
  • "Il sert de frontière entre les États-Unis et le Canada sur environ 200 kilomètres de son parcours."

I hope that helps answer any and all questions you have, or at least points you in the direction of Duo staff to lodge your complaints about the use of the word "frontier" in their lessons.

10/1/2013, 7:05:13 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/sdrc22

Oh, my apologies. I wasn't really directing the question at you...just put it there because it was a reference to Duo's use of frontier as meaning border. Not meant to be exclusively to you. Thanks for your reply and effort to clarify...I was sort of just "venting" at another really difficult to understand sentence. My question was really for any French speaker if this was some obscure sentence or if it was a sentence a native French speaker would truly use. It just seems so odd. Again...my apologies for any misunderstanding. Take care! :)

10/1/2013, 7:28:16 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
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My apologies too if my reply sounded snarky. The use of some words and the caps lock made me feel like you were pissed at me for some reason. All is well. :)

10/1/2013, 9:02:10 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/marialch

the sentence translated to spanish literally ("sirve de frontera") would be used naturally in my mother tongue, so I can imagine that the french use it as well... (In fact it is so natural to me that I am surprised about all the comments! note taken, never use frontier in this sense in english :-) )

10/14/2013, 7:49:31 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Marie282520

What are then the other words used to express a border in French? Looking in the dictionary does not always indicate the most used words. What are the most common words.

4/25/2017, 9:31:01 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SuhailBanister

Having lived in that area, I can affirm that many people in western New York state still call the greater Buffalo area the "Niagara Frontier," referring to the Niagara River that separates it from Canada. So frontier=border has not entirely disappeared from modern English.

2/13/2017, 1:37:03 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/DarrenMc

Makes perfect sense to me, although maybe not the most natural way of expressing the idea.

3/15/2015, 4:31:58 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/CatMcCat
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Could one not say, "It acts as a border"? (not accepted by Duo.)

8/27/2014, 10:04:51 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/DianaM

Sounds right to me.

8/28/2014, 1:46:37 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
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Of course. It is accepted.

3/12/2016, 7:09:05 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/jyjoo
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why is there no article (une) in front of frontière?

2/1/2013, 10:40:08 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
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Not needed. "Servir de" translates to "to serve as" or "to be used for".

4/15/2013, 4:54:13 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/jyjoo
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i see that it is not needed obviously, but i wanted to know why. or at least what cases one should not use articles after the preposition. for example, when you use a negative sentence such as "il n'y a pas de pain". you shouldn't use "du" in this case, and i understand why. i'd like some sort of explanation like this, if there's any.

4/15/2013, 5:00:22 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
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Sorry! I'll keep looking for a better explanation, but start here at "VI. Means/Manner": http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/preposition_de.htm

4/15/2013, 5:11:48 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/jyjoo
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you don't have to be sorry, i appreciate your help!!

4/15/2013, 5:12:44 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
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Message from Sitesurf:
Cases where the article is dropped after "de" 1. With specific verbs constructed with de, and followed by an unmodified noun, the article is dropped: - avoir besoin de / avoir envie de / changer de (train, chemise, etc.) / manquer de / s'occuper de / se passer de / servir de (to put to use as) / vivre de / se tromper de... 2. Content or description (complément de nom): un mur de pierre, une tasse de thé, une chanson d'amour, salle de classe, jus d'orange... 3. With adverbial expressions about quantity: peu de, moins de, plus de (more), beaucoup de, autant de... 4. All negative expressions: plus de (no more), pas de, jamais de...

4/15/2013, 6:08:04 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/joyce7774
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thank you - now I get it!

12/31/2013, 4:20:10 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/la.coccinelle

How would you translate 'It serves as the frontier'? I was marked wrong for this.

12/7/2013, 6:18:49 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/niklasmf
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I'm pretty sure it's the same. If you enter "il sert de" in linguee, it's translated to "it serves as the" in about half of the cases. To me, "It serves as the frontier" seems actually a more likely sentence, i.e., when talking about the border between two countries.

3/8/2014, 9:32:35 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SongbirdSandra

"He serves at the border" is incorrect, and I understand why after reading these comments.
However, Duo offered * He serves as one border.* as a correct translation, which is odd. Is that translation correct?

7/12/2014, 1:34:32 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/DianaM

Sounds ludicrous to me, the English, at least.

7/12/2014, 7:04:37 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/RollingUphill

I agree that "He serves as a border" or "He serves as a frontier" are ridiculous. The only translation/s that make sense to me are "It serves / is used as a border/frontier"

11/8/2014, 3:07:55 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
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No, neither of the expressions using "he" is correct, nor the use of "one". Someone had the idea that it would simplify things if "a" was universally interpreted as "one". In fact, much of the time it is very awkward (despite being grammatically correct) to use "one". To make it worse, the computer now thinks that one can insert "1" for "one" anytime and we occasionally see this in answers being displayed. It's utterly ridiculous but we're stuck with it until the problem is fixed.

3/12/2016, 7:13:34 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Lingolizard
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In the audio, the "t" in "frontier" sounds strange to me, in that you almost can't hear it.

Is this an error in the recording, or is it just the way it is pronounced?

4/6/2015, 4:00:43 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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You're right, that T sounds weird. However, there is no difference between a French and an English T sound.

4/6/2015, 5:21:23 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/19Shelley51

Sounds like "fronpierre" to these aging ears...there's a 'p' sound & don't understand why.

12/15/2016, 1:43:15 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Lingolizard
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Ok, thanks

4/7/2015, 4:54:20 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Flossy22

These comments are most illuminating, thanks.."It acts as a border" makes the most sense to me. No 'person' is a frontier or border, me thinks.

3/3/2015, 2:18:51 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/philwalding

It serves as a frontier . Makes more sense in English

4/2/2015, 9:28:58 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
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Frontier, border, boundary. All are accepted.

3/12/2016, 7:17:32 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/VincentDiC2

Should accept "it acts as a boundary"

1/16/2016, 6:19:54 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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Whether "it" is a bridge or a river, I feel it just stands there. The meaning of "servir de" is rather passive, whereby geographers or politicians decided that "it" would be a boundary or frontier or border. So, in my opinion, there is no action on its part.

1/17/2016, 10:33:50 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User
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English is strange that way. Something that isn't doing anything at all can still be acting as something, which makes no sense whatsoever. "It acts as a boundary" sounds fine to me.

1/18/2016, 11:55:43 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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Fair enough, I added it. Thanks.

1/18/2016, 12:36:08 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Marie282520

i heard various things over and over: Il sert de St. Pierre. Il sert de pierre....and none of that was close. I hope this is not a problem with my hearing. I hope to take a tablet to all conversations so folks can write me what they are saying. I fear I will never get it. I thought someone was going to eat St. Peter.

4/25/2017, 9:21:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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It's not only you, the woman's voice is very bad here.

4/26/2017, 8:31:21 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/MariaIramendy

All I can hear is de son père

11/29/2017, 11:11:26 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/DaleLewis

Frontier is not the same thing as a border in English. It's more than a border. It's the edge of something that is extremely different - not yet explored. The Old West was called The Frontier. Outer space is the new frontier.

1/7/2015, 5:55:48 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jill114763

I think the issue lies in DL use of "frontier" as the English translation for "frontière". Although it may also mean the same per Webster, the commonly used word is "border". Had they used it, the F to E translation would make sense to the majority of E speakers.

1/15/2016, 7:18:07 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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But "border" is accepted, provided the rest of the sentence is correct as well.

1/15/2016, 11:51:39 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/n6zs
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I get your point that "border" is the word used by English speakers and you will see that reflected in the "best answer". Sometimes non-native English speakers assume that it must be translated as "frontier" (which is also correct) because it just looks that way. While it may be understood, it is not natural (idiomatic) English.

3/12/2016, 7:21:49 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JulesF.
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Why is it not "Il sert comme une frontière."?

11/27/2017, 4:04:04 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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"Servir de" is a set construction.

Alternatively, with "comme", you would have to change the verb:

  • il/elle est utilisé(e) comme (une) frontière.
  • il/elle est considéré(e) comme une frontière
11/27/2017, 4:40:34 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JulesF.
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thanks!

11/28/2017, 9:15:24 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/WinterCast1

As Samuel l Jackson said "english m***, do you speak it" didn't get that sentence

7/24/2018, 8:50:36 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/deborah853655
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Sorry - I read all these comments but am still not getting why il sert is it serves. I was marked wrong for he serves at the border. Must be some rule I missed?

11/15/2018, 1:16:05 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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"Il sert de" means "it is used as" or "it serves as". So the pronoun "he" and the preposition "at" are wrong.
In this story, "il/it" is a thing, like a wall or river, which separates two countries.

If the sentence were "he serves at the border" (his job is located at the frontier) the French sentence would be "il sert à la frontière".

11/16/2018, 3:47:36 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/fleursmortes

"It serves as a boundary line" should be accepted as well.

1/31/2019, 8:38:12 PM
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