7

I'm having trouble translating

Chacun y met du sien

Which I think says "Each one puts their own there" but I don't understand why it's "du" and not just "le"

Wouldn't

Chacun y met le sien

Also make sense?

12

In Old French sien meant one's property (le mien → "my property"; le tien → "your property", etc.). This meaning has long been forgotten and nowadays mien, tien, sien, is used as a noun only in the phrase y mettre du sien.

According to Expressio at the beginning of the 16th century y mettre du sien meant "to put one's money in it", just as y être du sien meant "to pay out of one's own pocket"

If you tell people:

Chacun y met du sien.

You tell them to put some effort ("to pull their own weight") in whatever they're doing. As if you were asking them to contribute to something with some (du/de le) of their own money.

Otherwise nowadays le mien, le tien, le sien etc. are possessive pronouns. See here for their use.

If you say:

voici une boite, chacun y met le sien.

you ask people to put "his" (whatever it is) in the box you're handing them.


Sien ne s'emploie plus comme nom (masculin singulier) au sens de

« son bien, sa propriété » (1130), que dans la locution y mettre du sien (1696) « contribuer à, favoriser qqch. par sa bonne volonté » (Dictionnaire historique de la langue française, sld Alain Rey).

Expressio:

au début du XVIe siècle, y mettre du sien voulait dire "y mettre son argent", tout comme "y être du sien" voulait dire "en être de sa poche".
C'est à partir de la fin du XVIIe siècle que l'expression naît avec son sens actuel en sous-entendant systématiquement la notion de sacrifice ou de concession (en concédant quelque chose, on pouvait considérer y laisser une partie de son bien), connotation qui n'est plus obligatoire aujourd'hui.

Dire :

J'y mets du mien.

revient à dire que je contribue à un effort de la même façon que je mettrais une partie de mes biens dans cet effort.

Sinon de nos jours le mien, le tien, le sien etc. ne sont plus employés que comme pronoms possessifs.

  • Note that it if often employed in the figurative way: instead of money people could put together not only wealth but other kinds of efforts: physical strength, time, ... – Anne Aunyme Jun 13 '16 at 8:46
  • @AnneAunyme I did not realize that my employing " to put some effort" was so ambiguous and could refer to money only. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Jun 13 '16 at 9:08
1

In spite of some translations that use “one’s all,” I think the “de” is there, as it often is in French, to capture the “partitive” notion that some (an immeasurable part), but not all of someone or someone’s help is required and being requested.

This could even be a/n (somewhat rare) example of the use of the French “partitif” that has a literal and idiomatic English counterpart: “To give/giving of oneself” as distinguished/nuanced from “To give/giving [all of] oneself over to.”

To the extent that there’s any merit to this explanation, perhaps a better translation of the French phrase would be “Everyone must/should do their part” or “Everyone must/should contribute/do something.”

1

Le means "the" and du (which is a contraction of de le) means "of the".

So Chacun y met du sien means "Each person puts in of their own". For example if what's being put in is money, saying du implies that each person puts in "some of" their own money ... puts in money "from" their own wealth, and not puts in all their wealth.

1

More frequently used as "everyone makes concessions" (we put aside anger, disagreement, general idea of putting common interest first 'we all join efforts' Si chacun y met du sien on y arrivera.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.