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A la limite


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I often hear French people saying "A la limite" and also "Ce n'est pas evident". I struggled to work out what they meant for a long while but having talked to French people who speak English I have come to a conclusion. Those French people who post here and are good English speakers am I right in thinking that the former roughly translates as "If I really have to" "if push comes to shove" if you've come across this expression; and the latter "It's not that easy/straightforward".
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I had never heard of "à la limite" until a bi-lingual English friend used it, I asked him is it the same as "à la rigeur" ? Which is used in my area and he had not heard of that phrase!

I think that they are both used for "at a pinch" but would love to know any subtle differences.

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Do I detect, from what Robert & Collins say (see below), a subtle difference that "à la limite" is a bit more extreme than "à la rigueur"? Roughly the difference between "if necessary" and "if absolutely necessary"?

à la rigueur  : at a pinch | if need be

 on peut à l'extrême rigueur remplacer le curry par du poivre  : at a pinch ou if you really have to you can use pepper instead of curry powder

 un délit, à la rigueur, mais un crime non: le mot est trop fort  : a minor offence possibly ou perhaps, but not a crime - that's too strong a word

 il pourrait à la rigueur avoir gagné la côte, mais j'en doute  : there is a faint possibility that he made it ou he may just possibly have made it back to the shore but I doubt it

 à la + limite

 à la limite on croirait qu'il le fait exprès  : you'd almost think he's doing it on purpose

 à la limite, j'accepterais ces conditions, mais pas plus  : if pushed ou if absolutely necessary, I'd accept those conditions, but no more

 à la limite tout roman est réaliste  : ultimately ou at a pinch you could say any novel is realistic

 c'est à la limite de l'insolence  : it borders ou verges on insolence

 jusqu'à la dernière limite : rester, résister to the bitter end | till the end

 jusqu'à la limite de ses forces  : to the point of exhaustion

 aller ou tenir jusqu'à la limite  ( Boxe )  : to go the distance

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Plod, I am delighted to find someone who does as I do with new language (words, phrases, sayings) that I come across.

The very first chance I get, I try it out, looking as though it's just something I'm saying in an off-hand, casual manner.

But, I watch the reaction carefully to see how it has gone down, whether anyone repeats the word or phrase and, more importantly, whether they agree with the sentiment or not.  Such fun learning............[:D]

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I've always been interested in language and listen carefully to the French I hear around me. The other day I heard a woman say "Punaise" and I asked her why -to avoid saying "Put***" she said. I restrict myself to the ubiquitous "Mince" though!
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I was saying "masse" instead of "mince" for over two years before being corrected, its sometimes difficult with words that are rarely written, thats why I like reading bandes dessinées you get to see exclamations  like "vingt de jus" written that you hear, know the context but make a bad fist of repeating,  throw in my accent for good measure and you begin to see why many people smile at me like I am a cretin.


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