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On Aviation.SE there is a question about a commemorative medal for the Concorde aircraft. The text on the medal reads in part:

enter image description here artist: Albert de Jaeger

Que Concorde rapproche les hommes

Looking at Collins, I'm unclear as to what to make of the verb tense with this construction. There is an example "qu'il fasse ce qu'il voudra!"/"let him do what he wants!". I've also heard such things as :

Que ce fuselage est magnifique !
Je sais que le fuselage de cet avion est magnifique.

...this is necessarily the present tense of the verb to be.


  • How do I know whether that's the case here with rapprocher (rapproche)? Is there a clause missing/implied here which would command using the subjunctive with rapprocher?
  • Should I read in que means let there be? What would be the difference without the que i.e. "[Le]Concorde[,] rapproche les hommes."?
  • Is there any specific meaning arising from using les hommes with that verb, is that more than strictly bringing people closer to one another; does it imply being "reunited"?
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the final response is in English AND FLbeta is not a translation site – cl-r Rendez confiance à FL Jan 28 '16 at 22:11
  • @cl-r Do you know where I can find something to help with this? – SMS von der Tann Jan 28 '16 at 22:14
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    Peut-être : english.stackexchange.com ; en précisant que cette annonce publicitaire a un double sens : rapprocher : 1° diminuer la distance physique entre deux personnes (ou objets), 2° se rapprocher de quelqu'un chercher à rentrer en contact avec une personne pour une relation approfondie. – cl-r Rendez confiance à FL Jan 28 '16 at 23:24
  • Pouvez-vous considérer retirer vos votes de fermeture ? Les commentaires précèdent la modification : il n'y a plus de demande de traduction ici. Merci. – user3177 Jan 29 '16 at 14:16
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A sentence starting with "Que" seems to be an equivalent to "May".
You can find the same construction in Star Wars :

Que la force soit avec toi
May the force be with you

Here:

Que Concorde rapproche les hommes
May Concorde allow people to get closer

The problem here is to translate "rapprocher"...
It litteraly means "make people be closer". But can either be for geographic distance, or for a relationship.

  • You may want to add a reference to 'La Concorde' literally synonym to 'harmony'. – Orace Jan 29 '16 at 14:49
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This motto would translate to something akin to :

May Concorde bring men closer.

It loses a bit of meaning in the translation though : in French, Concorde also designates Concordia, the Roman goddess of agreement and peace. To elaborate on your sub-questions :

  • There is no missing clause to indicate it's a command or prayer. The sentence is complete and is a perfectly correct way to express a command. Que in the beginning of a sentence has two possible meanings :

    • With a proposition in any indicative tense, it's used for emphasis : "Que la nature est belle !" would translate to "How beautiful Nature is !".
    • With a proposition in the present subjunctive tense, it is an imperative construction equivalent to "let" or "may" in English. It's actually the only way to express a command in the third person, or in the first person singular, for which no imperative tense exists.
  • "Le Concorde, rapproche les hommes" is not a very natural sentence. It's correct, but that construction wouldn't be used. You could say "Le Concorde rapproche les hommes", which is present indicative : you're just flatly stating the fact that the Concorde does bring men closer. "Concorde, rapproche les hommes" would be using the imperative second person singular : you're commanding Concorde or Concordia to bring men closer. "Que Concorde rapproche les hommes" is also a command, or a wish, but you're talking to someone else than Concorde. These sentences have very different constructions, grammatically speaking ; it just so happens that in all these cases, the correct inflection is rapproche.

  • Proche is the equivalent of the English word close and has the same figurative meaning : it can be geographically, or emotionally.

About the matter of deciding which tense is used here, there is no way of differentiating between the present indicative and the present subjunctive form, so nothing tells us if it's a wish or an exclamation, except that there is no exclamation mark. Meaningwise, though, the exclamative "How well Concorde brings people together !" doesn't really make sense.

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