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  5. "La femme est légère."

"La femme est légère."

Translation:The woman is light.

March 25, 2013



I don't believe the word légére is translating to light in this case. In English we wouldn't say light - maybe light-hearted, as in carefree, or in another direction - light-skinned, or if we are talking about weight thin, skinny...and the other translation given was "loose." In English light does not equal loose, and "loose" is definitely an improper description of a woman in polite conversation.


That's why I chose 'nimble' (which is another translation) but Duo just killed a heart.


"Nimble" has been added. Context: a dancer, for example.


"Light" is one choice here, but "loose" (ref: morals) is definitely a legitimate translation, according to Larousse. Context is so important. Like "light" in English, "légère" can mean many things:

[Edit] léger (adj): light (gait), light (mist), light (vehicle), light (wind), slight (wave), light/thin/flimsy (dress), faint (odor), (s)light (pain), slight/minor/unimportant (error), un repas léger (snack, light meal); in regard to a person (irresponsible, thoughtless, unthinking); in regard to morals (loose, risqué), light-hearted; in regard to music (light), e.g., light opera. http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais-anglais/l%C3%A9ger/46491

The Oxford French Dictionary includes "nimble" along with other terms.

It could easily refer to a person of loose morals, a person of easy virtue, etc. http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/francais-anglais/femme%20l%C3%A9g%C3%A8re


As a native of the US, upon hearing this sentence, "The woman is light," I would automatically think of her weight as being low. In common English, there is no other interpretation.


That's right...IF you translate it as "light". We will never know what was actually in the mind of the person who said "la femme est légère". The sentence could be interpreted in very different ways and as such is quite ambiguous as to what was intended. Communication, after all, is only achieved when the message received is the same one that was sent.


Respectfully, n6zs, there is no "IF" in this case to conjecture about. Someone at Duolingo had "The woman is light." in mind, because that is the translation that person gave for "La femme est légère." at the top of this page. As for Communication, when a message is sent by one and received by another, something is always communicated. In fact the message received is never identical to that which is sent: this is called the arch of distortion. We can, however, attempt a more perfect exchange of information and ideas by attempting to understand what is in the minds of those with whom we are communicating. I believe that is what we are attempting to achieve here. Non ?


If we assume that "it must be 'light' because that is the posted answer, then no. But you are correct that we must understand what the speaker actually meant in order to translate correctly (meaning that our interpretation is the one that the speaker intended). Otherwise, it may be this or it may be that. However, we are not free to say that it unequivocally means this or that when (as in this case) we don't actually know. You may have heard me say before, you have to know what is meant (in the original language) BEFORE you translate it. Did the French speaker mean that the woman is light in weight, or nimble, or did he mean that she is thoughtless? Because one could just as easily translate it correctly as "the woman is thoughtless". In this exercise as in many others, we often don't know which way to tilt the translation when these very different outcomes are possible. You need the context of a conversation to determine that. Indeed, a message is received, but is it the message that was sent? That is why "the woman is thoughtless" is also accepted as a legitimate translation, along with a few other similar interpretations.


I've heard the phrase 'léger comme une plume' so assumed the sentence was referring to her weight as well.


"Léger comme une plume" might also mean moving freely, graciously, so it could fit the "nimble" translations some gave here.


could it be translated as frivolous in this context?


Yeah I do agree. There are two possibilities here : one about weight, the other one about...well, you said it perfectly. Let's pretend, for the sake of good-manners :) that she's really skinny


"Light" as an adjective has NOTHING whatsoever to do with a person's morals.


Of course not. But the word "légère" can be interpreted in these two very different ways. So we're not talking about what "light" means, but how "légère" is being used.


thin/skinny could arguably be adjectives for a 'light weighted' appearance whereas in the specific context of weight e.g. at a weigh-in the doctor's 'legerel could work


It used to and not too long ago. A light woman was a woman with few sexual morals - possibly a prostitute but perhaps just an inconstant lover.


I'm having difficulty remembering the accents, or knowing which is which, especially the 'e's. Are there any tips to help?


try thinking of the pronunciation. "é" makes a 'long a' sound (like in day).


how do you remember which accents to use and when to use them?


Each accent indicates a different sound, for example é sounds like ay whereas è sounds more like eh. There are 2 steps: learn which accents indicate what sounds, then learn to recognise the sounds in speech.


I tried lady instead of woman. Is that not the same as woman in French?


A woman is une femme and a lady is une dame


Yes but in English, woman and lady are the same thing unless you're specifically talking about the wife of a lord (very rare)


Does anyone know is they were reffering to light as in light sking tone or as in not heavy?


léger/légère = light as opposed to heavy
clair/claire = light in colour


The wife? Femme = woman and WIFE?


Here, the use of a possessive would make a clear distinction. If there is no possessive form before "femme", it tends to be interpreted as "woman" and not "wife".

une femme = a woman
la femme = the woman
les femmes = the women
des femmes = some women

ma femme = my wife
ta femme / votre femme = your wife
sa femme = his/her wife
nos femmes = our wives
vos femmes = your wives
leurs femmes = their wives

It is similar with "ami" (masculine) or "amie" (feminine):
mon ami = my boyfriend
mon amie = my girlfriend
un ami à moi = a (male) friend of mine
une amie à moi = a (female) friend of mine


Thank you for this thorough explanation, Melina. One follow up question regarding "Mon ami." I occasionally hear one good friend great another with "Mon ami!" They will also use it sarcastically with someone who isn't really their friend. I'm wondering if they are using it correctly?

Ok. One more question: why wouldn't "my girlfriend" = "ma amie" ?



Maybe @MelinaArins hasn't seen your question so:-

Whenever we have a feminine noun that begins with a vowel or a mute "H", in order to prevent a clash of vowels, "ma" becomes "mon".

The same is true of "ta" and "sa".

Therefore "ma amie" does not exist.


Oh, I didn't have the time for answering before, came here for that now. Thank you for doing so, @PatrickJaye. =)

And you're welcome, @Frank-O-Phile. By the way, you're right, French people also use "mon ami"/"mon amie" sarcastically.
As for your other question, @PatrickJaye already explained it very well.


Merci beaucoup, Patrick et Melina, pour votre assistance!


I see this post is old...but I just got hit with it too. Looks like Melina has a good explanation.


how to know when to use légére and when to use facile?


Facile means easy or simple to accomplish, whereas légére means light, as in weight.


Attention to the different accents:
légère ;)


So, it can't possibly mean "The woman is fickle" ?


There are certainly aspects to "légère" that could support that (thoughtless, irresponsible, even "loose"), but perhaps "inconstante" says it better. http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais-anglais/inconstant/550682 [Edit: the Oxford French Dictionary lists "fickle" as one of a great many uses for légère].


This most definitely is a flaw in the program. A woman described as light is awkward. Slight or slim to describe body type should be accepted.


Is " The woman is slight" incorrect?


Is there a way to describe someone as 'not being heavy' without the potential awkwardness of accidentally calling them 'thoughtless' or 'loose'?


I agree with the comment that "nimble" is the most accurate, but i want to know why in this context, the sentence accepts "The woman" and NOT "the wife"?


The first thing that comes to mind - "légère"= chilled, relaxed/relaxing. Could an alternative translation be such? Merci!

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