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Je suis en train de traduire un court extrait, et je ne suis pas sûre comment traduire la phrase "Then why the passport?" dans le contexte suivant: une femme demande à son fils pourquoi il a son passeport dans son sac, allait-il partir?

"I wasn't going to leave or..."
"Then why the passport?" his mother said as she once again held the passport up.

Ma tentative : "Alors pourquoi le passeport?" sa mère a demandé en tenant le passeport en haut encore une fois. Mais je crois que c'est une traduction trop littérale, peut-être?

Les réponses en anglais ou en français sont les bienvenues!

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    she held the passport up : (en) brandissant à nouveau le passeport/ tenant à nouveau le passeport en l'air. Mais surtout pas « en haut » ! Je sais que je réponds à côté mais ça me parait plus intéressant que la question posée. Bienvenue sur French Language inverted introvert. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Feb 15 '15 at 11:19
  • The question might be closed as proofreading. Pity, contains several points that could be discussed. But don't get discouraged and come again. When you have enough reputation (50 I think) you'll be able to ask this sort of question on the chat. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Feb 15 '15 at 11:28
  • Thanks for that Laure! Can't seem to upvote your answer... I'm guessing because I don't have the rep for that yet. I'll read up on asking questions now. You don't have any suggestions for the question "Then why the passport?" by any chance? Also, if unsure about how to phrase the question in French, would it be better to ask in English? – inverted introvert Feb 15 '15 at 12:17
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    You can ask questions in French or in English, but since some of us edit questions and correct them, if you come to French Language to improve your French then it's better to ask in French and get corrected. Your French looks good enough to make yourself understood and when we don't understand we ask for precisions. Alors pourquoi le passeport is fine but pourquoi donc sounds more idiomatic. Alors pourquoi donc prendre le passeport ?. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Feb 15 '15 at 12:48
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    Pure translation questions are off topic but you were half way there with your question because you had something to propose and gave context. We usually like questions that call for long explanations rather than just "how do you say that in French?". If you'd been aware of the problem you could have made a great question trying to say "she held the passport up" in French, that was the real difficulty in the sentence. But I've answered it now. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Feb 15 '15 at 13:08
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« Alors pourquoi ce passeport ??? »

... ce ...celui-ci que l'on tient, que l'on montre à hauteur d'œil, qui s'intercale physiquement entre les visages des locuteurs.

Même si ce n'est pas la question, une proposition littérale pour la fin de la phrase :

...lui dit sa mère en tenant à nouveau le passeport en l'air. (interrogation insistante)
...lui dit sa mère en brandissant à nouveau le passeport en l'air. (interrogations renouvelée plus agressive)

plus contextuel ou 'scénographique' :

...lui dit sa mère en lui remettant le passeport sous les yeux (ou sous le nez).

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Your translation can work. When it is written you will rather say " alors pourquoi prendre le passeport ?" but at oral We won't say "prendre". So, as you have to report a dialogue, it is right.

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If I were his mother, I would say « Alors que fais-tu avec ce passeport ? » or « Alors que faisait ton passeport dans ton sac ? » en brandissant le passeport (not "tenir en haut" please ;) ).

The expression "que fait ce passeport ici" is quite familiar and may sound weird, since a passport doesn't "do" anything. But it is totally acceptable in an actual conversation in French.

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"Et le passeport alors???" would be a suitable translation.

  • Perfect, that works well. It seems I still can't upvote until I get some reputation but thank you! – inverted introvert Feb 15 '15 at 12:33
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"I wasn't going to leave or..."

Je ne voulais pas partir, n'est ce pas

"Then why the passport?" his mother said as she once again held the passport up.

"Dans ce cas, pourquoi le passeport " sa mere repondit tout en soulevant encore une fois le passport

This is the answer I gave but some people did not understand and someone down voted my answer. So let me break it down to you. It is NOT right to translate from English to French literally as some do. You have to translate based on Pre-text, Context and Text and expressions.

Otherwise, when you take an expression like

Baby if you give it to me, i give it to you, i know what you want

You will translate it

Bébé si tu me le donnes, je te le donne, je sais ce que tu veux

And that is a BAD translation.

The required translation here was

"I wasn't going to leave or..."

The or... means they are things left, in other words,

I wasn't going to leave, was I ?

and the one who asked this translation said

Une femme demande à son fils pourquoi il a son passeport dans son sac, allait-il partir?

In other words, the woman was wondering whether he was willing to leave or not. So you were willing to leave, isn't it ? That is why i have added the "n'est ce pas ".

"Alors pourquoi le passeport?" sa mère a demandé en tenant le passeport en haut encore une fois.

I agree that instead of "soulever encore", "en brandissant à nouveau" should have been a better way of saying it.

So I think a better answer could have been

"I wasn't going to leave or..."

Je ne voulais pas partir, n'est-ce pas

"Then why the passport?" his mother said as she once again held the passport up.

"Dans ce cas, pourquoi le passeport " sa mère répondit tout en brandissant à nouveau le passport

However the person who asked the question did not formulate it well because he said two contradictory things in his questions.

une femme demande à son fils pourquoi il a son passeport dans son sac, allait-il partir?

Mais si c'est la femme qui pose la question a son fils elle ne peut pas dire I wasn't going to leave elle dirait plutot YOU

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    Je pense que le "n'est-ce pas" est superflu, et "soulever" n'est pas vraiment le bon verbe. – Najib Idrissi Feb 15 '15 at 14:43
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    Soulever ("lift" in English) ne convient pas. Ça voudrait dire que la mère soulève le passeport pour montrer ce qu'il y a en-dessous. Or l'important, ce n'est pas ce qu'il y a en-dessous mais le passeport lui-même. Par ailleurs I wasn't going to c'est soit « Je n'allais pas m'en aller » ou « je n'allais pas partir » (et pas « je ne voulais pas »). Or c'est "otherwise"/"or else", jamais « n'est-ce pas » – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Feb 15 '15 at 14:44
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    @NajibIdrissi ce n'est pas seulement superflu, c'est une mauvaise compréhension du texte. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Feb 15 '15 at 14:45
  • On ne traduit pas literalement l'anglais en francaia mais on traduit selon le contexte du texte et les expressions utilisées. @Laure Dire je n'allais pas m'en aller eat une erreur, une tautologie – John Max Feb 15 '15 at 22:16
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    Thank you. I mean no offense and don't mean to butcher up your answer. You stumbled on that "or"; for me it was simply like "I didn't move it or anything" i.e. or something more specific/generic. "Je n'avais pas l'intention de partir ou quoi que ce soit(du genre)" is what it's about imho. Then your corrected, ("Dans ce cas, pourquoi le passeport ?" répondit sa mère en lui montrant (à nouveau) son passeport.). You spoke yourself of context; to hold up is very idiomatic in En. but what is that? It is "to show" in context; it's not like holding a sword or the Graal on top of your head. Thanks. – user3177 Feb 17 '15 at 21:33

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