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  5. "Ta nièce est bête."

"Ta nièce est bête."

Translation:Your niece is stupid.

February 6, 2013

90 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geertjevanberlo

So, when I say 'Ta nièce est bête' I could say 'your niece is silly' (which isn't an insult if you're having a good time and are joking around), or it could mean 'your niece is stupid' (which is almost always an insult).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geertjevanberlo

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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sally410

To be honest, knowing it could be very rude is one thing but being taught 'someone is stupid' in a another language is a rather sad reflection on our species. Ah, well.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeFant0meCach3

Wait...so it could mean stupid or smart basically based on context?!?!! Je suis très bête en français !


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DrMicroChem

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".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lane973

Agree. Teenagers near me use "sick" as a positive. If they say "that concert was sick", they mean it was a great concert and they had a lot of fun going to it. I'm sure hearing that would completely confuse someone learning English as second language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Blair-D

In very colloquial language, being beast can mean that you're very good at something. In Australia, the phrase "You're a beast at footy" is actually a very nice compliment, to be responded with "Yeh cheers mate".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeFant0meCach3

Ou est-ce que 《 Je suis très bête à français ? 》Lol


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WorldTrekkerDC

You would say, "Je suis nul en français" to mean I am horrible in French (nul = nulle, if it's a girl saying it).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jorge.a.me1

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.


[deactivated user]

    Jean Cocteau's famous movie (in French) about Beauty and the Beast is titled La Belle et le Bête."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jacob133544

    I fink thats funny


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arjofocolovi

    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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/smontoya

    I think "foolish" is also an acceptable translation of "bête"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

    I always input silly which is accepted.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vladislav123

    note: do not say "daft"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LindaB_Duolingo

    Hi, Vladislav

    Don't say daft? Really? Why not?

    in Manchester daft is like 'silly', a little bit crazy or a little bit slow - it can even be used affectionately. (Oh, you: you're half daft.)

    What does it mean where you come from?

    :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vladislav123

    my point is: i tried it, and it's incorrect


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LindaB_Duolingo

    Ooooh! Sorry! (Sound of Linda face-palming herself.)

    Sorry, Vladislav, I completely misunderstood.

    No, I am not surprised DL does not recognise 'daft'. It's very colloquial. Very common where I grew up, but unusual most other places.

    :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alleigh25

    As an American, it comes across as very British but perfectly understandable.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SeanMeaneyPL

    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!"
    * criticising


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrianBoru4

    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.


    [deactivated user]

      You might better say, "I tried it and it is not accepted." Just because DL does not accept something does not necessarily mean it is incorrect. It may be so, or it may be a correct form DL hasn't gotten around to accepting yet. DL is a work in progress.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jeffrey855877

      Why stop here?
      Ton neveu est laid
      Ta femme est grosse
      Ton mari est un cochon

      We could do some "yo mama..." jokes in French, too.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/coinaday

      That would be a brilliant additional unlockable section: like for 200 lingots unlock Insults.


      [deactivated user]

        Way to go Duolingo, teaching how to insult family members in different languages since 2011...


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew748026

        Duolingo just got brutal.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolkZayets

        If you think that's brutal, you should check out some of the Spanish and German lessons :)

        Spanish: Debemos eliminar el testigo-- We need to eliminate the witness German: Ich habe deine Tochter-- I have your daughter


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/precioso1

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JPDurak

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marie852846

        OP is just making a philosophical observation about the of nature of humanity. Not whether it is a necessity to learn or not.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolkZayets

        It sounds like something one might hear in a French movie or television program.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/phronzy

        duolingo tells it like it is


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cristaxius

        Nice discussion opener :)


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewSnijders

        Désolé, je ne suis pas désolé


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Natalia66611

        What is the accent on the e for?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arjofocolovi

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ana314528

        What about, Ton neveu est bête.....?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arjofocolovi

        "neveu" = "nephew"


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GoranGoranovic

        dumb and silly is more correct than stupid ... if you actually use stupid (same spelling in French) then that's quite another thing :)


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roy143879

        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!


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Durple_Purple

        Well, that's not very nice!


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeoffPenn

        I see this sentence, "Your niece is stupid", come up so often in these lessons. It is starting to bug me.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/akis656937

        Bête is used only to describe feminim nouns?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arjofocolovi

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/melaniekostas

        You should keep a non abusive and respectful tone in your lessons.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lindamarsh7

        why is the mic not picking up my correct answers sometimes


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alexeymosko

        Comme c'est gentil...


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RicardoIbarraGT

        Ok. Am I the only which hears very different the slow pronunciation? I normal speed I hear "Ta niece que bete". In slow speed I hear "Ta niece est bete."


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arikgershon

        Why is this wrong? "Your niece is unintelligent"


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Greenwizard126

        excuse me....but silly and stupid are not synonyms.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WorldTrekkerDC

        I would have liked "Ta nièce est bête comme ses pieds" even better. If Duolingo's going to make a sentence like that, go all the way. It basically means "Your niece is dumb as a rock" and a good expression to know.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Signe584783

        Why is it the niece that's stupid?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/oldestguru

        Sounds like a great phrase to make friends in France


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LSadun

        I have a pronunciation question. The audio sounds like "ten yes eh bet". That is, the "n" from niece has shifted BACKWARDS to join "ta". I thought that letters (specifically, consonants) only shifted forwards. Is this correct?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bilingual.max

        I know it can also mean "silly," but this is the best example I've gotten in every lesson I've ever done.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pippacrh

        I hadnot realised there was so much difference between english english and american English it is very confusing sometimes! We use stupid as an insult, silly is better in this context I think.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/deniaridley

        There is not much difference between American and English English. Stupid is always an insult.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ouphrontis

        We use it as an insult, too, it's never used as a nice thing to say even to an intimate, i.e. it always signals disapproval.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/captainrex817219

        it is quite evencive


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nancybeth

        I'm waiting for "ton neveu est bete." Why is it always a girl?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LynnAc

        Duo lingo is sexist. It only refers to females as stupid.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vern572928

        I really don't wish to learn this phrase. How can I avoid it?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bliss_Poppet

        And here we have a "stupid niece", and previous question was a "rich nephew". Duo sexism, or is it the French??


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bruce161715

        Why is it always that the niece is stupid and the nephew is rich in Duolingo?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jeffrey855877

        Here's a pun in French:
        Elle est aussi bête comme un bison
        "She's as dumb as a buffalo"


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mimimifimoi

        tsk tsk tsk! shame on you!!!


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vern572928

        I would prefer not to respond to this!


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/51360

        This really is rude. Do you have to keep saying this?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/51360

        this is really rude...do you have to keep saying this?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cynthetik

        It should accept a beast which is the most literal translation and the most accurate. Teaching poor french is not a good aim for Duo and it seems more of this is creeping in.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arjofocolovi

        "beast" is neither the most literal nor the most accurate translation.

        First, "beast" is a noun, while the French sentence uses an adjective. Second, if the sentence meant to use "beast", it wouldn't be used this way and would have used an article, like so: "Ta nièce est une bête."


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cynthetik

        Yes it is - the English word beast is derived from the French bête. The ê was a marker for an es as the o with circumflex was for os. It's the same word historically with exactly the same origin from the French. Beast means 'like an animal' or dumb. Oxford dictionary etymology of beast: Origin Middle English: from Old French beste, based on Latin bestia.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arjofocolovi

        No, it's not. Etymology and actual meaning are two separate things, otherwise I promise you we would have very different languages than we have now.

        Of course the adjective is derived from the noun, but nowadays they are two different words with two separate meanings (and functions) and you cannot assimilate one to the other.

        Translating "ta nièce est bête" with "your niece is a beast" is a mistake, there's no way around it.

        Again, "your niece is a beast" would be "ta nièce est une bête".


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeFant0meCach3

        Just curious, French is quite different from English in this regard correct? English may behave this way and I've never noticed it but being a native speaker I would think I would have. I noticed a lot of French words appear to have multiple meanings...sometimes quite seemingly unrelated to each other and I am curious as to why. Is this one of if not the main reason why that's so? The more I get into French the more fascinated and perplexed I am by it.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LizGartlan

        Your niece is stupid - such a insulting phrase. Change it please!


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel.Luke

        I cannot understand how "Your niece is idiotic/ stupid" is accepted but "Your nieces is an idiot" isn't.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fenix_vulgaris

        That's translating an adjective with a noun, when the closer adjective to adjective translation is also available and perfectly fine. That may be the reason.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel.Luke

        The problem is duolingo are inconsistent in their marking. Sometimes they want a literal translation, sometimes they want something that sounds natural.

        The rule should be that it is correct if you can prove the ability to understand it. If it were so, there would be no difference between the phrases.

        It's incredibly frustrating to have this constant inconsistency while trying to improve one's skills.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/5clothilde7

        True translation has aspirations to come as close to the meaning of the original as is possible.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ashleyacohagan

        First, "nieces" is the plural form of niece so the sentence would change to- your nieces ARE idiots/stupid or Vos/Tes nieces sont betes. Secondly you couldn't put in the "an" because then you are making it a noun instead of an adjective which would change the sentence to- Your niece is an idiot= Votre/Ta niece est une idiote.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolkZayets

        "Your nieces is an idiot" is grammatically incorrect because of noun-verb disagreement.

        Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.