Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavier

Reading L'étranger - idioms

Gavier
  • 25
  • 14
  • 7
  • 4

Hi,

I've finished my Duolingo tree and have embarked on reading my first proper novel. It's going surprisingly well and despite having to stop and check the odd word I'm finding I can read it fairly easily. One idiom which struck me though: "On l'a couverte, mais je dois dévisser la bière pour que vous puissiez la voir"

"I have covered her, but I must 'unscrew the beer so that you can see her"

Unscrew the beer? Is this a common phase? He's talking about unscrewing the screws holding the coffin lid. I can find no reference anywhere else. In fact searching for it brings me back to the same book.

Anyone seen this phrase used before?

Thanks,

Gavin

4 years ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Cantchooseaname

I got my copy of The Stranger to see what the translation was. It's from Everyman's Library and translated by Matthew Ward. The passage goes as follows: We put the cover on, but I'm supposed to unscrew the casket so you can see her.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/fraserbooks

We use bier occasionally for a coffin especially if it is on a stand. I remember having to read L'etranger nearly fifty years ago at school. I have not read it since.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavier
Gavier
Mod
  • 25
  • 14
  • 7
  • 4

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bier Ah yes, so we do - I must confess I've never seen that usage before. Everyday's a school day! :-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavier
Gavier
Mod
  • 25
  • 14
  • 7
  • 4

Oh wait, wait - 'La bière' also means 'The coffin'. Well ok that makes a lot of sense, how strange though! LOL/MDR! That changes the meaning somewhat. :-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavier
Gavier
Mod
  • 25
  • 14
  • 7
  • 4

Thanks! I found an online translation by Stuart Gilbert which is not IMO very good. It seems to make odd unnecessary changes above and beyond the necessary translation into English. For example "J'ai dit « oui » pour n'avoir plus à parler" is translated into 'I just nodded' and the arab nurse's apron has changed from white to blue for no apparent reason. I picked up a copy of a more recent translation in Waterstones and that seemed much more close to the text. Perhaps this is the one you have? I've been avoiding having a translation to hand as I want to work at the translation without giving in too easily!

Thanks for the lingot whoever that was. :-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Cantchooseaname

I said, "Yes," just so I wouldn't have to say anything else.

Near the casket was an Arab nurse in a white smock, with a brightly colored scarf on her head.

This version seems to be rather faithful. I'm planning to read the book again in a year or so in French (so I can't know for certain), but I think that as far as translations go, Everyman's is rather fine.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavier
Gavier
Mod
  • 25
  • 14
  • 7
  • 4

That certainly sounds a lot closer in spirit to the original text. The French is quite sparse and pithy and the translation I saw seemed to extrapolate description and details not in the original which changes the feel somewhat.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alphabeta
alphabeta
  • 25
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 2

I have just started reading L'Étranger as well. Does Camus have a reputation for using straightforward language? Because apart from the occasional expression, I've had very little trouble reading and understanding each sentence on the first pass. But maybe my reading is just better than I anticipated :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Chartreux

Camus stated when he published the book that he wanted to write in the style of Hemingway in part I as he was an admirer of E.H. early style found in the Nick Adams Stories. Part II gets slightly more colorful and has many traits of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, which was one of the inspirations for Camus writing the novel in the first place.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavier
Gavier
Mod
  • 25
  • 14
  • 7
  • 4

It's interesting that his language is very dry and straightforward for human interactions but rather more colourful when describing the world. I don't know enough about Camus to know if this true for all his work or is more to do with the way Meursault sees the world

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/swimming2
swimming2
  • 18
  • 18
  • 16
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 6
  • 5
  • 2
  • 2

It seems that many of us here read "l'etranger".

Is there a way of uploading the whole of "l'etranger" to duolingo? That would be really nice!

(There is currently a small fragment from the beginning of the book on duolingo, but that's of course not the same.)

It would also be nice to have an index so that it would be possible to easily jump from chapter to chapter. Is there such a functionality on duolingo?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alphabeta
alphabeta
  • 25
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 2

It was first published in 1943. I assume that means it's still under copyright, so no the whole novel cannot be uploaded to Duolingo. (I purchased mine as an ebook for my tablet for a few dollars, via the Kindle app. Ebooks are particularly good for reading books in a target language because you can click on a word and get an instant definition.)

4 years ago