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Why keep a dog


Judith

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I have always assumed it to mean that if you have someone better "qualified" or "experienced" than you in doing something, you let them do it. ie as a librarian / information professional I'm quite good a finding things - I often get asked to find things by family members, as I can do it more quickly and expertly than they can. It can be applied to things other than that of course! But hubby does use it, espcially when I am better at household things than he is! But I agree about the rubbish bins too!
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[quote user="Judith"]Can anybody give me a sensible idiomatic French expression for our "why keep a dog and bark yourself?" All enquiries of French friends so far drawn a blank.[/quote]Why have a dog and bark yourself?

Pourquoi faire soi-même ce qu'on paie quelqu'un à faire?

Handy sayings translations here, here and here!

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Clair

Belatedly thanking you for your help - and the extra pages you gave, which I will look at (again) sometime.

Somehow, howver good the translation, the French is usually just not quite the same meaning, or quite as snappy as the English original. But then English has honed itself into a very direct form over the years!

Will keep me (and hubby) happy for hours!
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I had to explain to my French boss the english "saying" - I'm so hungry I could eat a scabby dog

After some baffled looks he came up with an equivalent - je peux manger un chien sans le vider

Which I think is just as gross as the original!!!

Thanks for the websites Clair - they look great, and very useful

Lou

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[quote user="Clair"][quote user="Judith"]Can anybody give me a sensible idiomatic French expression for our "why keep a dog and bark yourself?" All enquiries of French friends so far drawn a blank.[/quote]Why have a dog and bark yourself?

Pourquoi faire soi-même ce qu'on paie quelqu'un à faire?

Handy sayings translations here, here and here!
[/quote]

 

Except that 'Why keep a dog' would be the equivalent of 'Pourquoi payer quelqu'un'

and 'bark yourself' would be the 'when you end up doing it yourself'

which in the case of 'why keep a dog to do the barking yourself' = why spend so much money on having someone to help or accomplish a particular task then ending up doing the task yourself because the person/service bought has been useless ...

against the french expression of : why do something when someone else could do it for you for a little pecuniary recompense.

'On est jamais mieux servi que par soi-même' (One is only better served than by oneself!) which I think is a more accurate translation... and at the end of the day it is just pedantic semantic....[;-)]

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As I read it, "On n'est jamais mieux servi que par soi-même" (If you want something done, it's best to do it yourself) expresses the opposite of "Why keep and dog and do the barking yourself?"

I was not implying a dog was a person or that there was a financial aspect involved.

My suggestion was not an equivalent proverb, just a way of explaining

a very English proverb to a non-English speaking person... I could not think of an equivalent proverb in French.

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I don't know the answer to your perfectly valid question. The 'why keep a dog..? '  saying is perfectly well understood over here in the uk. In fact it cropped up in a business conversation between strangers last week (i.e. its not colloquial).  The context was 'I don't care who actually does service x- I sub-contract the responsibility to YYY, talk to them'

BUT

I want to claim brownie points for managing to explain the concept of a 'chocolate fireguard' to French somebody (in the context of our Syndic) and she understood !

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>>>I want to claim brownie points for managing to explain the concept of a 'chocolate fireguard' to French somebody (in the context of our Syndic) and she understood !<<<

 

Sorry to ask you but (as I am French) what is a 'chocolate fireguard'. In my mind it looks like that thing you put in front of the fireplace so the carpets are protected from the spitting ambers... but if made of chocolate it would melt with the heat produced by the fire...

Oh!  I get it! [I] ... maybe that is the idea of a chocolate fireguard : something useless at the task for which it is fabricated ...

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  • 3 weeks later...
Dear All

Found it - after a session with the dictionary (it was a long breakfast that morning!) and much hunting of possible places!!

It is translated as

"faire un travail qu'on pourrait deleguer a quelqu'un d'autre"

(excuse lack of accents on deleguer - impossibly difficult on this computer).

I think this is a pretty accurate translation for those who did not understand it even in English - but it certainly doesn't have the same bite to it - and isn't acutally quite the meaning, but near enough I suppose!

All we have to do now is remember it!

Many thanks all
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[quote user="Suandpete"]Question for missyesbut - what would the French equivalent of "about as much use as a chocolate fireguard" be?
[/quote]

Well... I had to think about that!...

The expression my grandfather used all the time when as youngsters we would help him on his farm and were utterly useless at getting the goats from the field to the milking shed. He would shout (in his patois of the Melle region) : 'Vous êtes aussi utiles que la cinquième roue de la brouette' to which we ran away crying and went to help our Gran cleaning her rabbit hutches or collect the eggs from the poulailler! as we were guaranteed cakes and lemonade for '4heures'! (tea-time type of snack for kids taken around 4pm) to soften Grandfather's insult...

Roughly translate it as 'You are as useful as the fifth wheel on the wheelbarrow'

I don't think it is an actual french expression for uselessness but have you ever seen a wheelbarrow with 5 wheels?...

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"Roughly translate it as 'You are as useful as the fifth wheel on the wheelbarrow'

I don't think it is an actual french expression for uselessness but have you ever seen a wheelbarrow with 5 wheels?... "

 

No, but I have not seen many wheelbarrows with four wheels either.[:D]

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  • 4 weeks later...

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