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I'm attempting a translation of an apparently contentious phrase. The phrase in question is “me/nous détestaient”. Here is the a more complete quote:

Mon vœu était dès le départ d’attirer l’attention de celles et ceux qui

  • ne se doutaient pas ;
  • se faisaient de fausses idées sans connaître ;
  • me/nous détestaient.

According to Google Translate, “me/nous détestaient” means “I/we hated”, but another translator took this to mean “hated me/us”.

The context doesn’t really help me understand which translation is more accurate. The phrase in question comes from a list of reasons why an author wrote her book. She's talking to her audience as a gay woman, and so it could make sense that she wrote it to enlighten those who “hated me/us”, but it could also be a brave admittance that she wrote it to try and enlighten those “I/we hated”.

”Me” apparently means the same in French and English, so it appears the translator is probably correct, but obviously the Google Translate is quite different, so I remain unsure.

What is the correct translation?

Also, it would be very helpful if someone could explain why context is needed to translate these three words, and explicitly how a different context could lead them to have other meanings. (If possible.) Thanks.

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“Hated me/us” is probably right (the grammar is wrong for “I hated”), but we'd need more context to be sure what the sentence means. Please post the whole sentence. –  Gilles Nov 30 '13 at 23:31
    
Thanks. Unfortunately, that is the whole sentence. It's from a bullet-pointed list. I'm a bit disappointed in Google Translate :-( –  The Monk Nov 30 '13 at 23:38
    
@Édouard The context of the list is in the original question. –  The Monk Dec 1 '13 at 15:35
    
@Édouard Mon vœu était dès le départ d’attirer l’attention de celles et ceux qui: - ne se doutaient pas - se faisaient de fausses idées sans connaître - me/nous détestaient –  The Monk Dec 2 '13 at 1:00
1  
Me thinks "me" cannot be used to mean "I" in French so only "hated me/us" is possible. –  jlliagre Dec 2 '13 at 9:02
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The second translation (hated me/us) is correct. The 'me' and 'nous' are reflexive, which means me and us rather than I and we. As was said before, me isn't used to say 'I'.

Also, you can know this translation is correct because of the ending (aient) on the verb détester. The subject is third person plural (celles), which means that it couldn't be either I or we hating, but as I said before, it is talking about those (third person plural) who hated 'me' and 'us'.

If you want to know more about reflexives, about.com is pretty good... http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/reflexivepronouns.htm

Hope this helps!

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