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Not understanding two sentences in my book.

Hello. There are two sentences that I don't understand in the book I'm reading in French, and I was hoping that somebody could translate them for me. For context, this part of the book is about the protagonist's perspective on the new Serbian dishwasher that has been hired, and the new dishwasher has a scheme where he works at an establishment (in Paris), a hotel or restaurant, only for a few hours so that he can get his pay, and then quit all of the sudden in some outrageous way, then immediately finding a new job. In this case, the dishwasher comes up with a witty comeback to hurl at the head chef.

1: Un plongeur se serait-il adressé en ces termes au chef de cuisine, que celui-ci lui aurait aussitôt expédié en pleine figure une casserole de soupe bouillante.

  1. Et à deux heures, le Serbe touchait ses vingt-cinq francs, avec prière de débarrasser définitivement le plancher.

Thank you for your help.

January 2, 2018



Had a dishwasher addressed himself to the head chef in these terms, the latter would have immediately dispatched a saucepan of boiling soup smack in his face.

And at two o'clock, the Serb had his hands on his twenty-five francs, with a request to clear off for good.

(Simply put, at 2 o'clock, the Serb got his 25 francs and was fired).

un plongeur / une plongeuse is also a position in a café, restaurant etc meaning "dishwasher" (US Eng) or "washer-up" (UK Eng).

débarrasser le plancher is an expression that means "to clear off", "to beat it" or "to get out".

And définitivement is an adverb meaning "for good".


I agree with Ripcurlgirl's explanations.


Merci Pierre - glad I was on the right track. ☺

The OP is reading George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London ("Dans la dèche à Paris et à Londres") and the translator of the version he is reading has taken a bit of poetic liberty. The original story simply says:

The head cook, if a plongeur had spoken to him like that, would have thrown a saucepan of hot soup in his face. The manager said instantly, 'You're sacked!' and at two o'clock the Serbian was given his twenty-five francs and duly sacked.


What is the purpose of “que”, in the “que celui-ci” part of the sentence? I have never seen it used like that before. This sentence is filled with a lot of structure I’ve never seen before.


I hope you don't mind me giving some context from Orwell's original English memoir.

The queerest type I ever saw in the hotel was an 'extra'. He had been engaged at twenty-five francs for the day to replace the Magyar, who was ill. He was a Serbian, a thick-set nimble fellow of about twenty-five, speaking six languages, including English. He seemed to know all about hotel work, and up till midday he worked like a slave. Then, as soon as it had struck twelve, he turned sulky, shirked Us work, stole wine, and finally crowned all by loafing about openly with a pipe in his mouth. Smoking, of course, was forbidden under severe penalties. The manager himself heard of it and came down to interview the Serbian, fuming with rage.

'What the devil do you mean by smoking here?' he cried.

What the devil do you mean by having a face like that?' answered the Serbian, calmly.

I cannot convey the blasphemy of such a remark. The head cook, if a plongeur had spoken to him like that, would have thrown a saucepan of hot soup in his face. The manager said instantly, 'You're sacked!' and at two o'clock the Serbian was given his twenty-five francs and duly sacked. Before he went out Boris asked him in Russian what game he was playing. He said the Serbian answered:

'Look here, mon vieux, they've got to pay me a day's wages if I work up to midday, haven't they? That's the law. And where's the sense of working after I get my wages? So I'll tell you what I do. I go to a hotel and get a job as an extra, and up to midday I work hard. Then, the moment it's struck twelve, I start raising such hell that they've no choice but to sack me. Neat, eh? Most days I'm sacked by half past twelve; today it was two o'clock; but I don't care, I've saved four hours' work. The only trouble is, one can't do it at the same hotel twice.'

It appeared that he had played this game at half the hotels and restaurants in Paris. It is probably quite an easy game to play during the summer, though the hotels protect themselves against it as well as they can by means of a black list.

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