1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. rephrasing answers, what are …


rephrasing answers, what are the limitations?

C'est la viande que tu as coupée . So, I have read enough comments to realize that I am reinventing the wheel with my objection to the literal, correct trans. of this answer.....I wrote, "You cut the meat". which goes against the lesson which Duo wants to rub my nose into... So thinking cognitive psychologically, I wonder which is more beneficial. to put aside the reformed answer and to stick with the plodding word by word intention of Duo, considering my low achievement degree, or to think competitively about this issue? We know from ESL research that "negotiation of meaning" is highly beneficial to students....unfortunately this give and take cannot be done online, or rather its impact is limited. And we can also observe at the highest levels of translation work, the imagination of the translator can be applied to freely translate while seeking the spirit of the original work. One could say, "Joe, you haven't yet proven that you know the rules well enough to break them." What are your thoughts?

December 23, 2017



While there are problems with literal translation, and it's one of my critiques of Duolingo as a learning platform, this is not the case here.

"C'est la viande que tu as coupée" does not translate to "You cut the meat". Looking at the English, if I were to say "That's the meat that you cut," the subject and focus is on the meat, with the action of cutting the meat being there to specify the situation, while in "You cut the meat" the focus is on you and the action of cutting the meat. These have different conations in English and would be used in different circumstances, and I'm pretty certain the same is true with French as well.


With the disclaimer that my French is somewhat rusty, to me "You cut the meat" and "C'est la viande que tu as coupée" just don't mean the same thing. Not in a "this isn't literal enough" or "there's a shade of meaning you've missed" kind of way, but in a "this isn't what it means" kind of way.


This is my humble opinion, I may as well be wrong, but I don't think that "C'est la viande que tu as coupée" can be translated as "You cut the meat" because this statement is in the present tense, while the French original is in a different tense.


"You cut the meat" can be past tense too, but I still don't think the French translates to it. I would translate C'est la viande que tu as coupée as "This is the meat that you (have) cut", and I'd translate "You cut the meat" as tu as coupée la viande.

to cut is a bit of a weird one, because besides continuous/gerund (cutting) and 3rd person singular present tense (cuts) I don't think the word itself changes according to tense. We don't say cutted, for example. Only in the third person singular has a clear difference between he cuts/he cut. Unless I'm missing something obvious, which to be fair is possible ;-p lol

But yeah, it still doesn't change that there are two sentences here that mean different things and for the OP's suggestion just doesn't (as far as I can see) mean the same thing, certainly not close enough for it to be a legit translation that should be accepted.


Duolingo seems quite flexible when it comes to answers, which doesn't always help when trying to learn.

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