language barrier

We were sitting in our local restaurant yesterday, and I was trying to work out what was what on the menu. I mean, I know what filet de boeuf is, but I’d no idea about rognons d’agneau, and fish is always impossible because the French eat very different fish from the rest of us, for a start, which is before you get to the menu hyperbole of “the unavoidable sea bream which we no longer present” (or something like that). Anyway, I went for the chef’s menu in the end, four small courses.

Later, I went for a walk around the village, which I try to do every day when I’m here, and I passed the hand painted sign pictured above. It reads, in French: RESiSTONS Pour Rappeler A ces Elus Bornés Qu’ils ne sont que nos REPRESENTANTS.

I assumed this slogan was something to do with the recent protests that have been sweeping the nation (though not so much round here), but there have also been hyper-local protests, with one local resident daubing pained slogans on the outside of his house (see below).

But it’s when you try to translate that the language barrier becomes most acute. Even my (French) wife struggled to say what exactly the sloganeer means. Google renders the sign as follows:

Let’s resist to remind these narrow-minded elected officials that they are only our representatives.

My idiomatic brain wants to change this to:

Let’s resist, to remind these bigoted MPs that they are merely representatives.

But it’s still not clear what it means. Does it carry the sense of “they are representatives, not dictators”; or does it carry the sense of “they’re meant to be our representatives” (as in represent our views)? Who knows?

And as for the slogan daubed on the house. Shrug emoji. I hurt for my village, land of welcome, openness and resistance! They shall not pass. Your guess is as good as mine.

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