In English, the adverb "deceptively" used to qualify an adjective raises a red flag, as its interpretation is heavily context-dependent. For instance:

Guessing how to pronounce anglicisms in French is deceptively easy.

  • For some people, this sentence means: "It’s anything but easy despite its apparent easiness".

  • While for others: "Despite appearances to the contrary, it’s actually easy".

I, for one, lean towards the former interpretation. I see some French speakers suggest the use of « d'une simplicité trompeuse », « trompeusement simple », or « faussement simple », but I’m not sure if they truly sound idiomatic to express the idea of "deceptively easy".

Personally, I want to say (at the risk of sounding somewhat verbose):

L’ennui, c'est que la prononciation des anglicismes n’est pas forcément aussi évidente qu'elle n'en a l'air.

  • 1
    And I would say "aussi évidente qu'il n'y parait", but yours is perfectly correct too. – Frank Jan 15 '17 at 5:04
  • 1
    "d'une simplicité trompeuse" is probably my favorite, i.e. the one I would use most naturally, with the former meaning you are mentioning. – Frank Jan 15 '17 at 5:06
  • I think your translation is entirely good. It doesn't even sound verbose. – Frank Jan 15 '17 at 5:08
  • If a thing is deceptively F, then it is in fact F but this fact may be deceptive as to something else. Thus, if Huckleberry Finn is deceptively easy to understand, then it is in fact easy to understand, but one should not think the novel is therefore not profound, does not repay analysis, would have been easy to write, or whatever. Of course I am not saying this is the "right" way to look at the expression, but just one more way someone could use it. – Catomic Jan 16 '17 at 0:27
  • @Catomic Interesting post. – None Jan 16 '17 at 7:46

L’ennui, c'est que la prononciation des anglicismes n’est pas forcément aussi évidente qu'elle n'en a l'air.

est tout à fait correct, bien que « forcément » ne soit pas nécessaire à mon avis.

« D'une simplicité trompeuse » est probablement la façon la plus courante et la plus courante de rendre deceptively easy et convient très bien.

Personnellement et spontanément je rendrais deceptively par « sembler à première vue ». Ce qui pourrait être intégrer de la façon suivante:

À première vue la prononciation des anglicismes en français semble facile / évidente mais...

On peut accentuer le décalage entre réalité et apparence en utilisant « pouvoir » (modalité introduisant l'incertitude) :

À première vue la prononciation des anglicismes en français peut sembler facile / évidente mais...

« A priori » peut remplacer « à première vue ».

La proposition de @Frank est très bien aussi :

La prononciation des anglicismes en français n'est pas aussi évidente qu'il n'y parait.

  • Hi. How do you express "a priori" in English? I've always been fuzzy on its exact meaning. I'm torn between "as far as I know" and "in theory / theoretically". – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 15 '17 at 11:09
  • 1
    I think adverbial & adjectival uages are different in French & in English. As an adverb (which is the case here) in French it means "sans bases expérimentales ou scientifiques", according to the wiktionary as an adverb in English a priori means "In a way based on theoretical deduction rather than empirical observation." – None Jan 15 '17 at 11:24
  • "A priori" exists in English too. – Frank Jan 15 '17 at 16:32
  • 1
    @ Frank Did I say something different? – None Jan 15 '17 at 16:59
  • 2
    @Catomic I gather it's much more common in French. Not used by everyone of course but its use is not restricted to those who've been to a Grande École (France's equivalent to Ivy-League). It will be understood by anyone who's had a lycée education, and can be used in everyday conversation (not only in formal speech) as an adverb to mean "presumed". As an adjective meaning "based on scientific deduction" I gather its use is restricted to philosophy and scientific language. A compared use of the term in English & French would be interesting. – None Jan 16 '17 at 7:32

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.