I'm trying to translate some portion of Lagrange's work "Analytical mechanic". Although I'm fully aware of the fact that I can simply find a translation in any library, I want to translate it by myself.

Unfortunately, I'm stuck with one sentence:

...d'où il est facile de conclure que ces équations ne sauroient renfermer le tems t.

I have translated the first part: ...From which it is easy to conclude that these equations..., but I'm stuck with the last part.

I didn't find sauroient in Wiktionary but it seems to be the Old-French form of the future form for savoir, and tems seems to be Old-French for for temps, given the physcial meaning of the work, but still I can't give some sense to the sentence under these assumptions.

  • oi spelling in French verbs was modified in to ai French verbs to coincide with the evolving pronunciation, it happened in the 15th century, it is Classical French. See here.
    – None
    Mar 10, 2017 at 7:42
  • Retranslations are excellent practice. You can also then compare with the existing one after for an "answer key" to check your work and hone your skills. :)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Mar 10, 2017 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


It means:

From which it is easy to conclude that these equations could not contain the time t

i.e. are independent of time.

  • sauroient is indeed old for sauraient from savoir. (Maybe not real "Old French" which is officially before 1,300. But yes, nobody uses that today anymore).

  • savoir here is a literary usage which has the meaning of pouvoir by "semantic crossover". So, ne savoir renfermer means ne pouvoir renfermer, i.e. cannot contain. See II D in CNRTL/savoir, which gives the following expressions as examples: .On ne saurait dire; on ne saurait en conclure, en déduire (qqc., que), en dire autant de; on n'en saurait douter; on ne saurait trop rappeler, insister sur, recommander (qqc.).

Interesting to note that Lagrange was originally Italian, but wrote his Mécanique Analytique in Berlin, in French... (in 1788).

  • Lagrange was likely a native speaker of French. His grand-father was Parisian and his mother was also of French ascent. Everything he published was written in French (possibly in Latin too).
    – jlliagre
    Mar 10, 2017 at 9:43
  • Not Old French indeed, -oient is written Classical French corrected to match pronunciation in the 1835 reform
    – jlliagre
    Mar 10, 2017 at 10:43

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