Saying someone is silly focuses more on what they are doing or saying rather than their character, even if such behavior is obviously a part of their general nature.
In a previous post on this thread I responded to some comments about the inflammatory nature of using bête, by pointing out that Duo accepts a less charged translation which is silly.
Someone downvoted my suggestion, so I looked it up to see if it's a bad use of French. Dictionaries put silly as the second translation of bête. Google Translate indicates it is the second most common translation of bête on the web.
However, bête used as a noun is very judgmental, meaning idiot, beast, animal etc.
Thanks for explaining the differences! Just googled the word, this also puts 'bête' in perspective: http://www.wordreference.com/fren/b%C3%AAte For example: ---- Olivier est un bête en mathematiques = Olivier is a whizz kid when it comes to maths ---- belle bête = a real beauty ---- etcetera!
Thanks. I hadn't seen that usage before. I guess it's a real context word. Like....he is a real animal when it comes to getting the job done... where calling him an animal is good thing in that context.
However, I think I would want to be really sure I had established the context before calling someone une bête
Well, sure. In American English, one can be bad such a villain or a naughty child. One can also be "bad" in the sense of being "cool" or really good at something. This is a slang usage & is more acceptable in some subgroups than others. It is usually communicated through vocal inflection, facial expression & body language. There is a lot of "meaning flipping" in American slang. It's best to avoid it until you have listened to how it's used & you learn where not to use it. You don't want to be bad at being "bad".
We have both usages in Spanish as well:
"El es una bestia!" Means he's stupid
"El es una bestia para las matematicas" Could mean either he's very good or very bad at Math, depending heavily on context.
We also have a similar usage in English: "He is [a] beast when it comes to coding" Means he's a very skilled coder.
All of this comes with the caveat that both in Spanish and in English, the use of beast/bestia is very informal, whereas, from what I can tell here in Duo, the usage in French is common.
It's always a matter of context. "Silly" or "stupid" can both be used either to be insulting, to joke with people or simply as an expression ("Don't be silly/stupid.").
Just the same in French, the meaning of "bête" depends on how it's used. But even at its most insulting level, it's quite safe to use, and is not considered a real insult, but it's still a judgment on someone else's mental capacities though. In that regard, I would put it closer to "silly" than "stupid" (even more so given the fact that we have our own word "stupide" in French). "dumb" is also a pretty close translation.
Keep in mind that here we're talking about the adjective "bête". There's also a noun "bête", which is a completely different word and has other meanings.
Oxford English Dictionary.
Middle English daffte, Old English gedæfte = mild, meek.
In modern English mainly, but not exclusively, northern UK and Scotland = silly, foolish ("Don't be daft, you silly beggar!"; or (less usually) mentally slow, deficient, mad. ("He's as daft as a brush, he's soft in the head"). Colloquially, enamoured of, smitten by, in love with someone ("She's daft about him").
I think Duo is missing out on a jewel of a word here. It covers everything from London slang ("You bl&ding daft barsteward!) to politicians having a go at "yet another one of Trump's daft ideas!"
I agree Duo should adopt it (not least because I got marked wrong for using it). It has a much gentler nuance than 'stupid' -- often coming with a suggestion of affection, or at least 'more in sorrow than in anger'. And it's certainly not an exclusively northern word. I grew up in London and heard it all the time.
Why would we want to memorize this ? Just think about it. I'm American so if I go to France and say that then I will be putting the idea in the minds of the French that we are a rude and mean country, including the people in it . So that's just my opinion I don't know how you feel , but that's how I feel. God bless.
Even if we have no intention of being a rude American in France, we would still want to know if a rude remark is directed at us. We would really look bête, if we just smiled back at being insulted.
The question is, whether this statement is necessarily meant to be insulting in French. As other posts on this thread have suggested, in some contexts, the adjective bête can congenially mean silly. After reading the many example uses of bête on http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais-anglais/b%C3%AAte/8877, however, I think that by itself, "Ta nièce est bête" is decidedly insulting.
If it helps to know, the presence of a circonflex over a vowel often (not always) indicates where an S used to follow. "bête"..."beste" (as in 'beast'). There's one in "hôtel" (hostel), "hôpital" (hospital). Personally, I can't hear a difference when pronounced but it does help me remember when one belongs in a word or not when writing it out.
It changes the pronunciation of the letter. You can have more informations here: http://french.about.com/od/pronunciation/a/accents.htm
Check out the links for each variation.
I am new to Duolingo but I can see that some people get too politically involved in the context of words. Keep in mind that learning a language is different to real life speaking it. We learn what the eords mean and the learn how to put them in to context. Please do not get involved in political correctness at this level!
No. Any adjective can describe any noun. But some adjectives have to be conjugated according to the gender and/or the number of the noun.
"bête" only changes with number, not with gender, so it's "bête" for feminine singular and "bête" for masculine singular. "bêtes" is for plural.