7

Hedging as in lessening the impact of the following phrase, indicating that its an approximation, or even indicating that its sarcastic. For example,

  • It's like two miles from here [approximation]
  • That meal was delicious, I ate like 5 pounds of meat [sarcasm].

I guess "environ" works for the first example, but does it carry the implied sarcasm of the second? And is it as colloquial as "like"?

  • For both cases I'd say "à peu près" or "environ" C'est à peu près à deux miles or C'est environ à deux miles and j'ai mangé à peu près 5 livres de viande. It would be more idiomatic to say j'ai mangé pour 5 livres de viande !. But I am not writing this as an answer because the translation is not perfect, the effect is not exactly the same. – anderstood Sep 13 '15 at 22:53
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    you could say "genre" in french slang : "c'est genre à 2 miles d'ici" or "j'ai mangé genre 5 livres de viandes"too. In the seconde second sentence, you could also use "presque"... – Random Sep 14 '15 at 0:00
  • @Random "genre" could be the best translation here, you should put it in an answer. – Babika Babaka Sep 14 '15 at 8:56
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    Can't help asking, only partly facetiously, "What's the English equivalent of like when used in such a phrase." ;-) Sheesh. – Drew Sep 15 '15 at 4:18
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    @Random "genre" est vraiment la traduction la plus exacte (sens et niveau de langue) pour "like". Met ça comme réponse que l'on puisse voter. – P. O. Sep 15 '15 at 10:47
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The problem here is that this usage of "like" is very common in English, but has no exact equivalent in French. It is mostly heard, rather than read, because it expresses something different according to the oral context.

I believe that "It's like two miles from here" is slightly different from "It's about two miles from here". In the first sentence, depending on the tone, "like" can be a form of emphasis on the distance, or also insist on the fact that the speaker doesn't exactly know the latter, making it less trustworthy than an "about" approximation.

So, depending on the context:

C'est à environ 2 km d'ici (simple approximation)

or:

Ça/cela doit être à 2 km d'ici

Notice the use of the verb "devoir". If you pronounce this last sentence with a neutral tone, it is just an oral form of approximation; but with an exclamation mark, and with the according tone, it expresses emphasis on the distance ("It's too far away, it's like two miles from here!"). Further precision: you would say "ça doit...", but write "cela doit...".

As for the second sentence, it is more simple to translate.

Ce plat était délicieux, j'ai manger 2 kilos de viande !

This is a very common form, and in my opinion it is the best way to translate "like" in this context, as the verb "devoir" here expresses doubt on the ingested quantity in a sarcastic way, as "like" does in the original sentence.

In case you wonder, I am French, so I can tell you these are everyday usages ;-)

8

You could say "genre" in french slang : "c'est genre à 2 miles d'ici" or "j'ai mangé genre 5 livres de viandes". It would fit with the original sense you mean.
Note that in France, we would say "kilometres" instead of "miles" and "kilos" instead of "pounds".

6

I understand your question and I would say that where I live, in Québec(french-Canada), it would be translated as the following : «C'est genre à deux miles d'ici.» or «C'est comme à deux miles d'ici.» «J'en ai mangé genre 5 livres.» But this is really really much local in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and only millennials talks this manner. The word "genre" is a new quebecer's slang for "comme", "exemple", "façon de", "à la" or "style". It's colloquial.

  • "Genre" is used in France too, I think this usage of the word is at least 10 years old here. – Babika Babaka Sep 17 '15 at 9:23
  • Really? I did not notice (I only hear French people on youtube and movie so). 10 years is what I call very recent(i.e. became popular after 1950). Genre avant les années 50, tsé genre l'affaire que les profs veulent pas entendre ni lire parce que ça veut rien dire et ça fait genre «je c pas parlé»? :P – Francis Marcoux Sep 19 '15 at 23:46
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Environ or à peu près are fine translations for like in the first sentence. To state you don't precisely know how far it is, you might also say:

  • C'est peut-être à trois kilomètres d'ici.

For the second one, I would say:

  • Ce plat était délicieux, j'ai mangé quelque chose comme deux kilos de viande...

Quelque chose comme is also used in the French expression ou quelque chose comme ça which I believe match the vagueness of the English "like":

  • Ce plat était délicieux, j'ai mangé deux kilos de viande ou quelque chose comme ça...

Note that I do not use miles/livres but kilomètres/kilos in France as the former risks to be confusing if not misunderstood here.

Genre, suggested in other replies, is fine and not only used by French Canadian speakers. However, despite its conciseness, it seems to me more colloquial than the English "like" in that context and far less used than ou quelque chose comme ça (at least in France), the reason why I prefer to advise the latter.

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