"Nous croyions aux histoires de fantômes."

Translation:We used to believe in ghost stories.

July 9, 2020

This discussion is locked.


"We used to believe in stories about ghosts" was not accepted, which I believe is a more literal translation.


I think the trick is to note that the French phrase things quite differently to how we would speak in English, and that there is a specific term in the two languages for a “ghost story” (a genre of fiction, in fact).


"We used to believe ghost stories" - is accepted. The "in" is what is odd in the given translation. You don't usually believe in the existence of "ghost stories", but you might believe what they are about.

However you can believe in ghosts!


I wrote: We used to believe stories about ghosts. This is a variant on Duo's translation, which means the same thing and I think should be accepted.


I think the difficulty with your version is that there is already a term, in French and in English, for “ghost story”, and the two terms are what DL is teaching here.


Thank you Timmy K for your explanation, it makes sense.


can someone please explain why "histoires de fantôme" is not right? why the "s"? thanks.


I think it is because "histoires de fantome" would mean literally "stories of/about ghost", which doesn't sound right, whereas "histoires de fantomes" would mean "stories of/about ghosts" which sounds OK. However in English we don't gererally use the "noun of noun" construction in this context and we usually invert the word order to "ghost stories" where only "stories" is plural and "ghost" is used as an adjective.

Interestingly when I checked the translation of "ghost story" Collins gave: "histoire de revenants" - I don't know whether Duo accepts revenants!


A better English translation for this would be "We used to believe in ghosts," or "We used to read ghost stories." It sounds odd the way it is.


Your suggestions aren't translations. They are total rewrites.


But what does the French phrase actually mean? After all, I believe in ghost "stories." I know such stories exist because I have seen books full of them. But this is an entirely different matter to (a) believing the events recounted in such stories are real, or (b) believing in (the existence of) ghosts themselves. In short, the French is ambiguous, and Duo's translation does not remove the ambiguity.


According to these examples https://www.linguee.com/english-french/search?source=auto&query=croyer croyer can mean "believe" or "believe in".

Duo's tin English ear has picked the wrong variant!

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