3

What does

"les" + singular proper noun

signify?

For example, what does

les Jean

mean? "Johns"? In the sense of: "People like Jean"?

  • Could you provide more context ? As a native French speaking I don't think I've ever seen this kind of construction. Are you sure it was not "Les gens" which sounds the same ? – Tim Nov 18 '16 at 7:08
  • @TimF Here's the French sentence I read: "Ils nous présentent des théories mécaniques singulièrement déchues du degré où les avaient portées les Jean Buridan et les Albert de Saxe." – Geremia Nov 18 '16 at 22:55
  • OK, so here I think it means "the people similar as Jean Buridan or Albert de Saxe". It's representing a category of people by naming two of them. – Tim Nov 19 '16 at 8:25
  • @TimF That's exactly what I thought, too. Thank you! – Geremia Nov 19 '16 at 16:18
6

Sometimes you can find this kind of construction. For instance, "Les Baptiste" will mean "All people named Baptiste". The proper noun can also refer to a entire familly like "les Dupond" (without additional "s").

2

In French, family names don't take an s in the plural, so I'd guess that this refers to "the Jean family." Some additional context would help, though. :)

  • There is the same in English: the Simpsons for example. – Anne Aunyme Nov 18 '16 at 9:12
  • Except that in English, we add an "s" when referring to more than one person named "Simpson." I remember seeing "Les Simpson" on a DVD case in France and being surprised by it—that's actually how I first learned this "rule." – Spencer Greenhalgh Nov 18 '16 at 15:30
  • 1
    You can put a plural on very famous family name. "les Tudors" for example. I guess the Simpsons could fit in there :-) french.stackexchange.com/questions/9048/… – Simon Mourier Nov 19 '16 at 7:41

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