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J'imagine que « se mêler de » désigne le fait de fourrer volontairement et indûment son nez dans les affaires d'autrui qui ne se regardent pas.

In this sentence, I opted to say "fourrer son nez {stick your/one’s nose}" to refer to the generalised/indefinite you, but then I found myself struggling to keep the pronouns consistent throughout.

As much as I want to say "qui ne se regardent pas {which do not concern you}" in keeping with the "on/son/se" consistency, the "se regarder" could easily be mistaken for its (reciprocal) reflexive verb usage with the meaning of "look at each other" or "look at yourself".

So what is an ambiguity-free alternative for finessing the situation? Swapping in "tu/ton/te" or "vous/votre/vous" doesn’t sit well with me.

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As it is, the last part can only be understood as "les affaires ne se regardent pas entre elles".

I think the only correct way of saying it would go as follows:

"J'imagine que « se mêler de » désigne le fait de fourrer volontairement et indûment son nez dans les affaires d'autrui qui ne nous regardent pas."

Not sure I can provide a rigorous explanation, but here are my thoughts. Often the English indefinite "you" is translated by the French impersonal "on". And this pronoun acts similarly to "nous". For instance, you could have used "fourrer notre nez" instead of the more general "fourrer son nez". But when it comes to the direct-object pronoun, "nous" is the only option there is for "on".

Hope it's helpful

PS: it's just a personal opinion, but you could drop "autrui" to be more idiomatic and simply say "dans des affaires qui ne nous regardent pas"

  • Merci. So is it acceptable to mix and match "on/son/se" and "nous/notre/nous"? On the other hand, I suppose that using "nous/notre/nous" in all of the three places is grammatical yet uncommon? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Nov 12 '16 at 18:42
  • "J'imagine que « nous mêler de » désigne le fait de fourrer volontairement et indûment notre nez dans les affaires d'autrui qui ne nous regardent pas." – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Nov 12 '16 at 18:42
  • +1, especially for suggesting that "autrui" could be dropped. You state that dropping it would be more idiomatic, which I don’t doubt, but I think dropping it would also avoid the redundancy that I see caused by the presence of both “les affairs d’autrui” & “les affairs qui ne nous regardent pas.” Maybe this redundancy (that I see) could also be avoided by dropping the “qui ne nous/se regardent pas” & keeping just the “d’autrui” (& perhaps replacing it w/“des autres” to be a bit more idiomatic) as follows: “«se mêler de» désigne ... fourrer ... son nez dans les affaires des autres."cc@LUNA – Papa Poule Nov 12 '16 at 19:41
  • @PapaPoule the problem is that "les affaires qui ne nous regardent pas" adds an information and emphasis (he shouldn't look at it, you're blaming him/her), whereas just saying "les affaires des autres" is more neutral. So if you could drop one or the other, I'd better drop "autrui"/"des autres" than the last part. – Random Nov 12 '16 at 19:45
  • @Random Ah ok, I was just assuming that “fourrer son nez dans les affairs des autres” in French (especially with “fourrer”) was close enough to English’s “poking his nose in other people’s business” (which already includes/implies the negative notion “that doesn’t concern him”) to be able to use it without “qui ne nous regardent pas” and still maintain the negative “blame” implication. Once again my assumptions have gotten me in trouble! Thanks. – Papa Poule Nov 12 '16 at 20:11

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