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"Comment le lion s'est échappé, c'est un mystère !"

Translation:How the lion escaped, it's a mystery!

June 29, 2020



"How the lion escaped is a mystery" or "it's a mystery how the lion escaped" or the alternative offered by ErnestGree4 above but the given translation is grammatically incorrect.


It does sound a bit Yoda, but it's clearly supposed to suggest the French. The idea is to teach you that "Comment le lion s'est échappé, c'est un mystère !" is a valid French sentence. If the English was structured differently, you'd structure the French differently as well, Duo would probably accept it, and you would never learn to write French sentences with this form.

On the French-to-English exercise, "How the lion escaped is a mystery!" was accepted for me 2021-02-25.


I agree with you. Here, DL is trying to teach this feature of idiomatic French in the only way possible given the DL format of no Tips or textbook.


Can you please explain what the grammar error is? I can't figure it out.


The 'APPARENT ' grammar error is that the 'APPARENT' question starts with the interrogative adverb Comment. When you start a question with an interrogative adverb then you must follow it with inversion...

But I do not see this as a question. And notice that DUO's punctuation mark is an EXCLAMATION. This is like saying "I do not know how the lion escaped". We actually use this type of 'expression of incredulity' in english all the time.


"how did the lion escape, it is a mystery" ???


Yep - that's what I had. The English given by Duo here is so stilted and bad that surely it was written by a bot from the late noughties!....and yet they won't accept a perfectly good translation - and haven't added it after four months!!


Make that seven months!


... apparently now 14 months


It's a mystery how the lion escaped should be accepted. That's what would be said in English.


The given translation doesn't sound good to an english ear. It should either be "How the lion escaped is a mystery" or if you want to stay with the way it is structured in the french sentence then "How did the lion escape, it's a mystery"


Another one from Duo where much better-written English responses are rejected in favour of a very awkward literal translation. Duo, if you need proofreaders for new modules, I'm happy to help.


------- i volunteered to proofread their existing copy. not even a reply . . .


... and in May 2021, they're still not taking up the offers of long-term, accomplished users on this obvious improvement to DuoLingo.


Incorrect English. Just bad grammar.


How the lion escaped is not even a proper sentence.How did the lion escape.


"How did the lion escape, it's a mystery!" marked incorrect. I think it's correct.


So do I..April 9/2021.

Edit: I am rescinding this agreement that it should be "how did the lion escape". I cannot, at time of writing provide any "expert premise", for the following reasoning: My self-correction is based on the exclamation mark at the end and after several reviews to try and answer questions re the NON 'french inversion' . I think that the exclamation POINT of INCREDULITY... dismisses any invitation to elaborate which is somewhat hinted at by the version "how DID the lion escape?'

It is the pithy of Hemingway's "She’s just having a bad time!" (Farewell to arms) vs

"He would have used his arms and his hands to push himself up; but instead of them he only had all those little legs continuously moving in different directions, and which he was moreover unable to control." Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

What bad days...It's a shame!


How the lion escaped is a mystery or how did the lion escape, it's a mystery.


Duo is translating the French the way it's written and spoken. I have no problem with that. We are learning the proper and common French construction, and it doesn't always translate smoothly. But I'm here to learn idiomatic French, since I already know how to compose good English sentences.

This double expression of the subject is very common in French. It's rare in English, so literal translation helps us to learn. I'm sorry that so much of these discussions is about English while the French is mostly overlooked.


That's still no reason why proper English should not be used.


What is improper about the English as used? I see no grammar violations, and in all these discussions, nobody has said what the violation is. Can you actually specify?


"How the lion escaped" is not a sentence or clause alone. Appending a clause to it with a comma splice doesn't make it a sentence - even if you think comma splices are ok.

An option keeping the two clauses/sentences:

"How did the lion escape? It is a mystery"


It's not a clause, no, it's a portion of the clause that has been left-dislocated.

Sentences of this type aren't common in modern written English, but they have a long history.

[edit: Had a brain fart there. It's not left-dislocation, it's a fronted adverbial. But it's still grammatically correct.]

We still use them in spoken English, and yes, sometimes when we transcribe them we use a question mark. But historically a comma has always been sufficient for this, and to my mind looks more elegant. The question mark looks a little emphatic.

In any case, the comma is the only possible way of retaining the French sentence structure, which is clearly the entire point. Otherwise you would translate it as "Comment le lion s'est échappé ? C'est un mystère !" - which is a valid French phrasing, but not the type of sentence structure Duo is trying to teach. Left-dislocation is still very common in French, so you ought to learn it.


Left dislocations involve noun phrases, which isn't the case here.

"The lion, how did he escape?" is an example of left dislocation, which you correctly point out is more common in French.


Ah, you're right!! Sorry, there are so many examples here involving left-dislocated sentence portions that i went into auto-pilot, but you're right, it's not one.

It's one of those infamous fronted adverbials.

And it's being used to make the sentence topic-prominent, which is also common in French.


It's grammatically incorrect in English, as are all the comma-spliced sentences. I gather they're common and fine in French. I deal with them in order to learn French, but you would never use this English translation without editing.

  • 1042

Sitesurf, need your help on this: Shouldn't the sentence read, "Comment le lion s'est-il echappe ... ?" (I can't make an "e" with accent as needed in echappe.)


Not Sitesurf.. but here is what I have found.. "The lion, did he escape" == "Le lion, s'est-il echappé" But "How did the lion escape, it's a mystery?"= Comment le lion s'est échappé(INTONATION), c'est un mystère" OR " Comment s'est échappé le lion (interrogative adverb (EXCEPT POURQUOI)+INVERSION ...OR "Comment, est-ce que , le lion s'est échappé...INTERROGATIVE ADVERB + est-ce-que + plus normal word order". _

Basically prefix the question with the adverb nullifies the use of your construct.


Such bad English grammar. Althiugh the French us fine, "How the lion escaped...." just doesn't make sense. It shoulbe "How did the lion escape..."


Here is a GREAT resource by the respected Le Robert which provides a TON of sub links which helps in understanding 'indirect' questions. It is AMAZING but needs a scholar's mindset not the knee-jerk "DUO is wrong"/"I am a native....progeny" obduracy. Look at the sublink for interrogative adverbs....so many good examples.



The english sentence could be the title of a book...

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