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  5. "Les murs ont des oreilles."

"Les murs ont des oreilles."

Translation:The walls have ears.

August 5, 2013



Brings to mind one of my grandma's idioms: "Little pitchers have big ears" meaning that children are listening quietly and are going to hear whatever it is you're saying so be warned.


I think it was also used in more sinister contexts, such as when there was a totalitarian government spying.


Indeed, right up there with "Loose lips sinks ships."


Well the context changes a little bit, and along those lines I have: "A closed mouth catches no flies", which is very close to the Spanish version: "En boca cerrada no entran moscas" or even: "Por la boca muere el pez"


No. I think this idiom refers to "hasta las paredes hablan", or "even the walls speak"


"Las paredes tienen oidos"


What about "Snitches get stitches?"


Not sure where I heard that...


Specifically I believe it was used by the British government on propaganda posters during WWII, to remind the population that German spies may be listening to their conversations.


Yes this is correct. In the second world war, this was used by british (and perhaps other nations too) government as propaganda. It was reminding people not to talk about secrets that give away information, like blackout curtains, or how they covered up signs of rail stations. also just normal info on how the war was going, because thee were many german spies playing regular british people. Hope this was interesting! EA


Yes as in Big Brother is watching (and listening too,)


This is curious and very accurate, as the Stephen Sondheim's song says: Childrens will listen




The guy who wrote the lyrics need a refresher course on his English grammar then.


Wow, this is extremely helpful. Thank you.


Wait, is that Frisk(or Chara/Frisk variation) in your profile pic? (If so and you know it, then UNDERTALE 4 LIFE BOI)


I have a Tamagotchi ON, and I was going to mate my Kungfuatchi to a Tamagotchi with those ears (or hat, or whatever) when I lost connection to the server. If the owner of that Tamagotchi ever reads this, tell me! Please! Heartbroken here!


is there supposed to be a liason between "murs" and "ont"? i do not hear one


No, there's no liaison if the first word ends on the second-to-last consonant's sound and the last one is actually silent. "Murs" is pronounced like the singular "mur" and not "murZ" so you wouldn't make the liaison, but you would on "des oreilles" because "des" ends on the vowel's sound.


that is a good explanation. hope it sticks for me.


Thanks. So, to clarify, does the same apply to all plurals that are made by a silent 's'?


Ok, but in a previous idiom << Les absents ont toujours tort >> there is a liaison between << absents >> and << ont >>. Wouldn't this invalidate that rule?


In fact, plural noun + verb is an optional liaison. You would pronounce the s in 'murs ont' if speaking more formally. In the case of 'Les absents ont', the s in 'les' is a required liaison but the s in 'absents' is again optional. Therefore you should always hear the first in any register of speech, but not always the second. Of course, native speakers frequently speak so fast that liaison rules disappear!


Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the "s" in "des" pronounced either? Which confuses me in regards to the reasoning for the lack of liaison


There are two famous rules of ''forbidden liaison''.
1. You never make liaison between a nominal group (simply put as noun phrase) and a verb. Hence no liaison between (les murs) and (ont). 2. There is no liaison between singular noun (followed by an adjective) and that adjective. e.g un enfant anglais. There will be no liaison between enfant (singular noun) and anglais (adjective).


I didn't know English had the same idiom! My family said this all the time in Spanish, "Cuidado, las paredes tienen oidos." "Be careful, the walls have ears."


Same in Serbia!

The walls are listening-Zidovi slušaju

or The walls have ears-Zidovi imaju uši

Which is funny when I think about this- when parents/grandparents/teachers think you're not paying attention, they say ''Dobro,kome ja ovo pričam? Zidovima?'' meaning- ''So who am I telling this [to]? The walls?'' so it's funny we contradict ourselves


In Spanish: "¿Estoy hablando para las paredes?" ("Am I talking for the walls?")


Same in Polish! We say "Ściany mają uszy" which is "The walls have ears"


Same in... I don't know, only heard it recently!


The exact same phrase exists in Hindi - "Deewaron ke bhi kaan hote hain". Interesting from a linguistic perspective that the same idiom is found in France as in India. :)


And the U.S I think you'll find that as different nations deployed their troops around the world, their various cultures went with them. This included idioms and cuisine. That's how pizza made it to America. (Thankfully)


A little bird told me?

  • 1591

In French, "A little bird told me" translates to "Mon petit doigt m'a dit" (literally: "my little finger told me").


merci. c'est drole!


@Remy, Thanks for sharing, That's very cool to learn! :-)


We have this in Spanish too: Un pajarito me contó...


In Persian we say "Ye kalâq goft be man" (A crow told to me)




In Persian there's a similar idiom with the same meaning; "Walls have mice and mice have ears".


In Persian we say: Divâr muš dâre, muš ham guš dâre. It means: wall has mouse, so mouse has ear. Or simply: Divârha guš dâran. (The walls have ears.)


The way I've heard it, the saying "The walls have ears" arose when the wealthy upper class lived in elaborate homes with servants. Many of these homes included narrow passageways between the walls so that the servants could attend to their masters without being seen. Unfortunately, this meant it was very difficult to have a private conversation. At any given moment, a servant could be passing through the narrow passageways, listening to the conversations. I remember visiting one such home and seeing an example of these passageways. It's a fascinating piece of history.


Yes, i wonder if the upper classes in their stately homes with servants used the expression after it was used during the war


In Chinese it's "隔墻有耳(There are ears across the wall)", this expression first appeared in 475BC-221BC in a book


'ભીંતોના પણ કાન હોય છે': Gujarati


In hindi दीवार के भी कान होते है


दीवारों के भी कान होते हैं


It looks really beautiful


"Dinding punya telinga" -Indonesian It means that you have to talk about something private in a private area as well. Don't think that anybody who is on that place when you talk about something and they do nothing. They could be a spy for your opponent


Exact same translation from Yoruba language (Nigeria), "ogiri l'eti" meaning "the walls have ears". So be careful someone might be eavesdropping on your secret conversation.


In persian دیوار موش داره، موش هم گوش داره


In Turkish we say yerin kulağı var meaning ground has ears


Die Wände haben Ohren.


In turkish idiom we say: "Yerin kulağı vardır" which means "The ground has ears."


hmmmm. what does this mean? like what does the expression mean

[deactivated user]

    It's kind of like saying that you never know who is listening and when they are listening.


    Can we sayings in the French culture? Instead of English equivalents


    I kept typing "the ears have walls" and getting it wrong. If you try to tell someone the Bible is true, their ears suddenly have walls.


    When I think of it literally, I'm sort of freaked out. But, I get what this idiom means. The walls can hear...?


    I think of this like the saying "If the walls could talk".


    Good connection between 2 common sayings.


    Die Wände haben Ohren = "The walls have ears" Were as "Ohren haben die Wände" = "Ears the walls have" In example one it is word for word where as in example 2 have is put at the beggining.


    I have a question. Why is the s in "murs" not pronounced, but in "des" it is pronounced? Strange, as both words are followed by an "o". Hmm...


    I guess this somehow mean 'be careful'?


    Seems to me that the section on idioms is much weaker than the rest of the content, which I am enjoying. Feels that the translations are too loose and that perhaps we are being taught English not French. The translations into English seem a little clumsy. Do others feel the same?


    I feel like while everyone else knows what they're doing I'm still struggling with these


    @Ginjaji Learning a language is a lot like making a new friend. You won't always understand the reasons why things are the way they are- not all at once. It takes time. The more time you spend at it, the more familiar it becomes. The more familiar it becomes, the more you will begin to understand and learn. It's a process we've all gone through, and continue to go through. There will quite likely be a time when you will say these things to someone who will be where you once were. Why? because you 'can' do this :-)


    Don't lose your spirit! Just keep learning-practice makes perfect! And keep in mind, a lot of people here have had some experience with french-whether it be in school(like me), travelling, having a friend whose mother tongue is french etc, and some of them even are french, just hanging around, easy lingots and xp, and they come by to give advice and help :)


    I get the same feeling when I'm doing Russian - stay in there, it will start to feel more natural.


    No, do not think so. You are not the only one and Idioms are meant to be hard. If you just scroll up and down this page you will see many people don't have streaks. Which could mean they have given up, they have finished learning on Duo or they are on a short vacation. Either way bonne chance.


    I accidentally wrote "The ears have walls" before realising my mistake, haha.


    Seth, i just did the same and i blame covid




    I accidentally wrote "The ears have walls"... What's wrong with me?


    That sounds wheard the walls have ears


    И у стен есть уши.


    This proverb means that talk slowly because your enemies are your walls .


    This proverb means that talk slowly because your enemies are your walls . Which may affect your goal .


    I do know some idioms' meanings, but what exactly does "The walls have ears>" mean?

    [deactivated user]

      It means that you never know if somebody is listening or that you aren't in an environment that is suitable for moving sensitive information.


      I'm inclined to believe that "des" in this situation means "some" But why is it needed? Would not "Les murs ont oreilles" be correct?


      In French you usually need an article before a noun. "Des oreilles" can be translated into English as "some ears" or just "ears".


      One of the translations for murs is cold fish but WR translates cold fish as pisse-froid. As hilarious as that idiom would be, I was wondering if murs really can be translated as cold fish or if it's just a mistake?

      • 1591

      In the figurative sense, "mur" can mean "cold fish" (in the sense of "pisse-froid"):

      • ex: "Cet homme est un vrai mur !" means "This man is a real cold fish!"

      See: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/cold+fish


      دیوار موش دارد، موش هم گوش دارد. In persian " the wall has the mouse and it has ears."


      I think the transaction -some - is quite idiotic.

      • 2300

      You're right. Using "some" in the English translation is actually quite wrong. The "des oreilles" only means that the noun is plural. While there might be an occasion where you could say "some", this is not one of them.

      [deactivated user]

        Les collines ont des yeux.


        Shouldn't it be ent not ont?


        Who says this outside of 1940s war movies?


        I wish they gave much more unusual/solely French expressions instead of ones that match the English. French has them.

        I was expecting it to be like the funny Hebrew idioms lists and videos I've seen (like 'on the face' = bad, or 'live in a movie' = delusional).


        The walls learened how to grow ears?!?!?! Well then?!?!?! WE ALL WILL DIE SOON!!!!!!!


        You are going mad.


        i think "the wall are all ears" should be consider :P


        When someone is "all ears," that means they're listening attentively, waiting for you to speak. "I have an idea." "We're all ears." It's a different from the idea that there could be eavesdroppers listening in on a conversation. One is overt, one is surreptitious.

        Also, "the walls are all ears" would conjure up images of walls being made of ears, or that you plan to talk directly to the walls, which wouldn't make any sense. In saying "the walls have ears," it's understood that the walls themselves aren't actually listening, but that other people could be listening in without you knowing.


        I think the english equivalent might be "if these walls could talk".


        pretty sure 'the walls have ears' indicates the need to watch what you are saying (present). 'if these walls could talk' is more of a retrospective 'imagine the history of what went on in this room.'


        Bankbenjamin you are right. Similar personifications of the wall, but yes "walls have ears" is more appropriate. I wonder if there is an equivalent French idiom for "if these walls could talk." "Si les murs pouvaient parler"


        "if these walls could talk" is also close to "i wish i'd been a fly on the wall...".


        Watch the German film 'Die Leben der Anderen' (The Lives of Others) for a good account of how this was implemented on a massive scale in the former East Germany.


        "If these walls could talk" refers to being able to know all past conversations that happened in a room. It would be used if for example you were standing in a presidential/royal/historic person's private room, and thinking about all of the things that may have been spoke on in that room.


        je ne crois pas. Voyez les autres remarques.

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