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Having just read a post on StackExchange English about ‘so’, how would you translate it into French, as in ‘I think so’ or ‘So, anyway’. Would you use ‘ça’ ?

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3  
So so, I'm so sorry, but so I will tell you: It is so that this word has so many different meanings in English—so far I can count maybe 7 or so—so that no translation could possibly encompass them all. So, had you been expecting so much, please pardon me, I thought I had to tell you so. (And despite playing with it, I'm not so completely sure my English is correct...) –  Stéphane Gimenez Nov 12 '12 at 21:37

5 Answers 5

I think one could also use «tel» in some sense of usage of so in English.

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For what my English grammar knowledge is worth¹, that's some kind of reflexive pronoun, about a non-human object. I'd translate that as “le”, as in :

Je le² pense (bien).

You could also translate it with “ça”, hence :

C'est ce que je pense.


“So” in “so, anyway”, as far as I know, doesn't have anything to do, and is merely some oral punctuation (is that what you're tagging “oral” for ?). This could translate³ to “donc”, or “alors”, not bearing much meaning :

Bon, alors…
Donc, euh…


¹ Not much.
² Actually, if I were to say that, I'd omit the le and say “Je pense bien”, but it'd still be implicit.
³ I have a hard time translating it as I use “anyway”⁴ more and more myself (in “french”).
En anglais dans le texte.
⁵ Thanks to Evpok.

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"Je le pense" is technicly correct. However, it is very (<=)19th century. I have never heard it except in historical movies. –  oli Nov 12 '12 at 20:52
    
@oli: Note 2 is somehow important. I'll have a hard time believing you never heard "je pense bien" in France. –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 12 '12 at 21:46
    
Peut-être est-ce différent au Canada et en France... Je n'ai entendu que des gens dire "Oui, je pense"... Mais ça implique qu'il n'est pas complètement s^ur.. "Effectivement" ou "En effet" sont plus affirmatifs. –  oli Nov 12 '12 at 22:11
    
"Je pense bien" est très affirmatif (j'ai beau être à Montréal, je suis avant tout français européen). –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 12 '12 at 22:20

When a grammar (and not even a dictionnary) has three pages on the use of a word, you may be sure that it hasn't a simple traduction. To be idiomatic, you'll need to take the context into account.

For the given examples:

I think so.

Je le pense (aussi), c'est ce que je pense aussi, c'est bien ce que je pense.

So, anyway...

Bon, de toute façon...


Un mot dont l'usage prend trois pages d'explication dans une grammaire, c'est le genre de mot qui n'a pas de traduction hors contexte. Pour les deux exemples donnés :

I think so.

Je le pense (aussi), c'est ce que je pense aussi, c'est bien ce que je pense.

So, anyway...

Bon, de toute façon...

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Au départ, je n'aimais pas du tout cette réponse (comment ça, « pas de traduction » ?), mais au vu de toutes les possibilités postées, je commence à y croire. +1 si c'était répondu dans la même langue que la question. –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 13 '12 at 8:44

1) I think that the most common equivalent of "I think so" is:

Oui, je pense.

Of course there are many other ways to say that, such as:

En effet. Effectivement. Probablement.

or just: "oui".

2) For the second sentence, which has a very different meaning. People often says stuff like:

Enfin, bref.

(i.e. okay, I/we have said everything on that topic, let's conclude or change the topic of conversation)

Voilà.

(i.e. That was what I/we had to say. Let's speak about something else.)

any many others....

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2  
Enfin bref est très bien trouvé ! –  Stéphane Gimenez Nov 12 '12 at 19:18

Personnally I link the English 'so' with the French 'ainsi', meaning 'this way'. I think so is the same as I think this way, in French one could say:

  • Je pense ainsi.
  • C'est ce que je pense.
  • Je le pense.

In 'So, anyway' the 'so' has a totally different meaning... it's almost just an interjection... That would be translated to 'Soit', 'Bon, quoi qu'il en soit'...

Edit: Be careful 'quoi qu'il en soit' only stands for 'anyway', and as @LeVieuxGildas has remarked, the 'soit' in 'quoi qu'il en soit' doesn't correspond to 'so', but is really the verb 'être' conjugated in this case.

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“Soit”, the verb “être” ? That's hardly an interjection… In your translation, “so” is rather translated into “bon”, don't you think ? Apart from that, I agree “ainsi” is the closest French equivalent to “so”, in terms of meaning (well founded :) ; but it's nowhere near as often used, so the translations sound a little awkward. –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 11 '12 at 21:30
    
@LeVieuxGildas He said "so" was almost just an interjection, not that soit is. –  Kareen Nov 11 '12 at 21:44
    
@Kareen Sure thing, but I tend to more easily translate interjections into interjections ; or to the very least, not into the most meaningful verb of the destination language. I highlight there's a big difference of meaning between both. (And, really, “quoiqu'il en soit” translates “anyway”, so…) –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 11 '12 at 21:47
    
@LeVieuxGildas Mmm... as I am french, and not a french teacher, I just say what's on my mind... on my tongue to be more precise. I personally often use 'Soit' as an empty word/sentence like a synonym of 'Bon, bref'. –  Stephane Rolland Nov 11 '12 at 22:03
    
Oh, don't worry, I do the exact same thing ; I just think your second paragraph is not internally coherent ("so" isn't mapped to "soit" in your translation), so I try to help improving it. Sorry if I do a crappy job at that. If you think I'm wrong, just dismiss what I say, no harm done ;) (well, ideally, dismiss and leave me a message in chat or something to help me understand why, but…) Welcome, by the way :·) –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 11 '12 at 22:14

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