3

This question is on the clause as highlighted in this passage from chapter 7 of La porte étroite by André Gide.

Le lendemain elle ne changea ni de coiffure, ni de corsage ; assise près de son père sur un banc devant la maison, elle reprit l’ouvrage de couture, de rapiéçage plutôt qui l’avait occupée déjà dans la soirée. À côté d’elle, sur le banc ou sur la table, elle puisait dans un grand panier plein de bas et de chaussettes usés. Quelques jours après, ce furent des serviettes et des draps… Ce travail l’absorbait complètement, semblait-il, au point que ses lèvres en perdissent toute expression et ses yeux toute lueur.
     – Alissa ! m’écriai-je le premier soir, presque épouvanté par la dépoétisation de ce visage qu’à peine pouvais-je reconnaître et que je fixais depuis quelques instants sans qu’elle parût sentir mon regard.
      – Quoi donc ? fit-elle en levant la tête.
      – Je voulais voir si tu m’entendrais. Ta pensée semblait si loin de moi.
      – Non, je suis là ; mais ces reprises demandent beaucoup d’attention.
      – Pendant que tu couds, ne veux-tu pas que je te fasse la lecture ?
      – Je crains de ne pas pouvoir très bien écouter.
      – Pourquoi choisis-tu un travail si absorbant ?
      – Il faut bien que quelqu’un le fasse.
      – Il y a tant de pauvres femmes pour qui ce serait un gagne-pain. Ce n’est pourtant pas par économie que tu t’astreins à ce travail ingrat ?
      Elle m’affirma tout aussitôt qu’aucun ouvrage ne l’amusait davantage, que depuis longtemps elle n’en avait plus fait d’autres, pour quoi sans doute elle avait perdu toute habileté… Elle souriait en parlant. Jamais sa voix n’avait été plus douce que pour ainsi me désoler. « Je ne dis là rien que de naturel, semblait exprimer son visage, pourquoi t’attristerais-tu de cela ? » – Et toute la protestation de mon cœur ne montait même plus à mes lèvres, m’étouffait.

QUESTION

  1. Does en refer to ouvrage?

  2. Assuming yes to 1, exactly what does en here mean? D'ouvrage or de l'ouvrage or des ouvrages (from de + les)?

  3. In d'autres, is d' the plural indefinite article des, which became de before becoming d' (as before a vowel)?

  4. If yes to 3, does des become de (before becoming d') because it occurs in a negated clause (by ne plus) or because autres (an adjective) comes after des? Or would either reason alone have sufficed?

  5. Putting it all together, does en... d'autres mean d'autres d'ouvrage (or depending on the answer to 2, d'autres du ouvrage or d'autres des ouvrages)?

  6. Suppose we weren't speaking of ouvrage, but countable things like friends. So e.g. Alissa says that no other friend has amused her more and that for a long while she has seen no other friends. The question is whether we would use the same construction en... d'autres for other friends. (I am asking because it would mean literally others of the friends, not other friends. Maybe French, like English, does not want to say others of the friends and uses some other construction.)

  • What makes you think ouvrages is uncountable ? Actually you can't even use d'autres for uncountables. – Teleporting Goat Feb 7 '17 at 16:10
  • @TeleportingGoat. One of my dictionaries said so (poor me). Actually that's my next question. Please see my comments to Random's answer. (I hypothesized d'autres for an uncountable must means other items of that thing, or some such workaround, just to remain consistent with my dictionary.) Thanks. – Catomic Feb 7 '17 at 16:11
  • There is a form of ouvrage that is uncountable (to refer to a global work, here it means a book !), but as long as there's an s it's countable (except for words that have an s in the singular form). – Teleporting Goat Feb 7 '17 at 16:13
  • @TeleportingGoat, Ah, like Balzac's or Chopin's ouvrage! – Catomic Feb 7 '17 at 16:14
  • Yes, or when it means "work" as in the first definition in the Wiktionary. "Il faut procurer de l’ouvrage aux ouvriers." : using de l' is a dead giveaway that it's uncountable. Remember that in French there are many words that can be both countable and uncountables, it's not as hard of a separation as in English IMO. – Teleporting Goat Feb 7 '17 at 16:26
2

1. Indeed

2. The full sentence would be :

que depuis longtemps elle n'avait plus fait d’autres ouvrages

3. with a word starting with a consonnant, it would be :

que depuis longtemps elle n'en avait plus fait de nouveaux

4. Indeed

5. see second point

6. If you are talking about a number of friends, you may say :

Dans sa vie, elle n'a eu que 5 très bons amis, et ça lui allait très bien, elle n'en voulait pas d'autres

  • Thanks. What confused me was my dictionary telling me ouvrage did not have a plural (that it was uncountable). If we had a truly uncountable noun, then d'autres would not be used for that? For example, suppose Alissa only drank water from a particular fountain in the wood. She says, "No other water does my body as much good. I have not drunk any other water for years." How would she say "any other water"? Not d'autres? Maybe n'en...plus... d'autre? – Catomic Feb 7 '17 at 16:06
  • @Catomic That's kind of a bad example because eau is actually countable when it comes from different sources, ex: "une eau riche en minéraux" / "L'eau de la Seine est bien moins claire que les eaux des régions montagneuses". But in the case of an uncountable, you can't use "d'autres". I'm kind of struggling to find an example that keeps the same sentence consrtuction with an uncountable. If you find one I'll tell you what to say (it's either dropping d'autres completely with no replacement, or using plus or encore depending on the case). – Teleporting Goat Feb 7 '17 at 16:15
  • 1
    The whole concept of "d'autres" has little sense with uncountables, because it basically means "another", or what the plural of "another" would be. You can't have "another" of something that you can't count. – Teleporting Goat Feb 7 '17 at 16:33
  • 1
    You can say "je ne bois pas d'autre eau que celle-ci" if you mean "l'eau de cette marque", because you are not talking about a volume but about a specific water brand compared to other water brands ("je ne bois pas d'autre(s) eau(x) que la Volvic"). But if it's like in "je n'ai plus soif, je ne veux pas d'eau" you can't say "pas d'autre eau" because it's a volume. But you could say "je n'ai plus faim, je ne veux pas d'autres pommes de terre" since it's a quantity, an amount — countable. – Destal Feb 7 '17 at 17:17
  • 1
    Addendum to the answer: The use of "de" in "'d'autres" is not because of the negation; it's because of the adjective before "ouvrages". For example, "d'autres ouvrages", which can occur in a non-negative sentence, is syntactically equivalent to "de nombreux ouvrages" or "de beaux ouvrages". However, if the word "autres" were missing from the cited sentence, what would be left is "d'ouvrages" and that "de" is because of the negation. – Luke Sawczak Feb 8 '17 at 0:28
0

faire des ouvrages [couture ou rapiéçage] is like faire des gâteaux or faire de la peinture, for that matter.

And these phrases above follow the rules very straightforwardly: any verb followed by DE takes EN, as a pronoun. Any verb followed by à, would take Y, as a pronoun. [example: Tu vas à l'école aujourd'hui? Oui, j'y vais]

Except in French both are countable. Not in English.

Est-ce que tu fais des gâteaux à la maison? Réponse; Oui, j'en faiS.

Do you make cakes at home? Answer: Yes, I make them at home. or Yes, I do. [countable] Notice how the EN becomes THEM in English.

Est-ce que tu fais de la peinture? Réponse: Oui, j'en faiS. [there is a DE but this is uncountable] Do you paint? Answer: Yes, I do.

As for faire des ouvrages, the reasonable way to translate it is: to do sewing or to do darning. [in this context]

Est-ce que tu fais des ouvrages [old-fashioned, de couture] Réponse: Oui, j'en faiS. [the en is because of faire des]

Do you do sewing or darning? Yes, I do. Yes, I do sewing or darning. [translated as a non-countable noun]

So, one can see that the logic of French does not apply to the logic of English. However, both are logical in their own manner.

0
  1. Yes, en refers to ouvrage.

  2. You could understand what is going on thus: depuis longtemps elle n'avait plus fait d’autres ouvrages.

  3. I think it is des: des ouvrages.

  4. Does it become de? I think it is just a contraction of des autres.

  5. See 2.

  6. Yes, same thing: depuis longtemps elle n'avait pas vu d'autres amis.

  • Please explain negative downvotes in the spirit of being constructive. – Frank Feb 7 '17 at 21:37
  • Not my downvote but I guess the colloquial French depuis longtemps elle en avait plus fait d’autres ouvrages might be an explanation. – jlliagre Feb 7 '17 at 23:06
  • Got it! That stray en should not have been there. Thanks! :-) – Frank Feb 7 '17 at 23:13
  • Well, that's better but still colloquial. Written French should be elle n'avait plus fait… – jlliagre Feb 7 '17 at 23:29
  • Oui! Merci! Trop de choses en même temps. – Frank Feb 8 '17 at 0:19

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