2

Et si nous ne rêvions que d'ailes ! Mais il nous faut quasi des nageoires et nous voulons imiter le canard, avec nos vaisseaux, et le thon, avec nos sous-marins, quand nous n'entreprenons pas de ramper à la façon des escargots – c'est le tank.

This is from Patachou by Tristan Derème.

I do not clearly understand the meaning of the sentence below,

, avec nos sous-marins, quand nous n'entreprenons pas de ramper à la façon des escargots – c'est le tank.

My current understanding goes as follows:

And how much we dream of wings! But we need also fins in order to imitate the duck, and we must do it with our vessels and the tuna and our submarines, when we do not intend to crawl like snails – this is tank.

4

You misunderstood this sentence. The context is a commentary on mankind's ambition being boundless ; there's a gentle sarcasm throughout (if only we just dreamed of having wings! But no, we're dreaming of so much more!) as the speaker expresses disbelief at man's dream of emulating ducks, tunafish and even snails.

The structure of the sentence is a series of parallels between animals and human inventions: here is the sentence, annotated with the three comparisons (a), (b) and (c) as well as implied meaning in brackets.

Si nous ne rêvions que d'ailes [, comme les oiseaux] ! Mais il nous faut quasi des nageoires [, comme les poissons]

(a) et nous voulons imiter le canard, avec nos vaisseaux [= avec nos bateaux],

(b) et [nous voulons imiter] le thon, avec nos sous-marins,

(c) quand nous n'entreprenons pas de ramper à la façon des escargots [= nous voulons même parfois imiter les escargots] -- c'est le tank.

  • 1
    Thank you so much, qoba! I have undestood so well. I appreciate your kind and detailed answer. – Hiroshi Inagaki Sep 16 '16 at 1:55

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