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What does this sentence mean? (Temps écumé)


Il nous assure qu'il ne sort plus dans le Paris qu'il a un temps écumé pour regarder les gens danser

I don't understand what this sentence means. I understand the beginning and end but its the middle I'm stuck on.

What is qu'il a un temps écumé??

Thank you!

August 1, 2017



It's quite literary and I'm not sure there is an equivalent in English.

For example: Il a écumé les bars de Paris ~ He has gone to almost every bar in Paris (also implying that he was drinking, etc. while doing it).

In your sentence, if I took a shot at a rephrased translation it would be something like:
He assures us that he doesn't go out anymore, to those places of Paris where he used to always go to watch people dance.
[The structure of my sentence is maybe a bit weird in English]

L'écume is the sea foam, but also the foam in cooking. So "écumer" is taking out the foam (skimming), but also has a figurative meaning which is "to plunder".
"écumer les mers" is a common expression when we are talking about pirates.
This meaning drifted from this kind of pirate lifestyle probably, going across the sea, pillaging in one place or another, taking a bit from everywhere.

Sorry if I'm not clear enough, I may lack the literary culture in English to find a good equivalent if there is one.

By the way, here "il a un temps" means "a while ago, he used to", not sure if you understood that part or not.


Thank you for the explanation!! So thorough! Have been wondering about it for a while :)!!


Also, does 'il a un temps' always mean a while ago/ he used to? Is it a very common phrase that is used regularly??


Il a un temps travaillé dans un restaurant.
He has, a time (ago) worked in a restaurant. [literal]
He used to work in a restaurant. [normal translation]

Il a un temps de retard = He is (one beat) late. [alternative meaning, probably originates from musical vocabulary]

It's not that common in the spoken language, but like in English, most people use a rather poor vocabulary in their day-to-day life.


Sorry to intrude, but some basics aspects of this sentence confuse me; why “dans le Paris” instead of “à Paris”? And why “qu’il a un temps écumé”? What is the purpose of “que” in this sentence? When I translate this, I can’t something that doesn’t make sense, which means this must be as sentence structure I don’t know. Can someone introduce me to this sentence structure? Thank you.


He assures us that he doesn't go out anymore in the Paris that/where he has, one/some time (ago), gone often [not literally translatable, we are losing meaning here] to watch people dance.

"Je marche dans Paris" implies that you are walking in the streets of Paris and puts emphasis on the place where the action takes place. While saying "je marche à Paris" is more neutral, Paris is simply the location where the action takes place.
"le Paris des beaux quartiers" because it's not anywhere in Paris but specific places.

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