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I encountered this while reading Astérix. The Gauls have had their village surrounded by a Roman palisade, and several of them attack the southern portion while Astérix leaves the village by the north.

After the fight, a Roman soldier comes running up to his comrades, lying bruised and broken on the ground, and tells them there's a breach in the northern palisade and that this fight was only a diversion. One of the soldiers on the ground replies "Une diversion? T'as de ces mots!!"

What does this mean? "You have some of these words" obviously makes no sense.

5

First, beware the diversion meaning in French is narrower than in English.

The Merriam Webster dictionary describes several acceptions, only the one describing a military tactic matches the French usage:

an attack or feint that draws the attention and force of an enemy from the point of the principal operation You create a diversion while I sneak inside the building.

So in Asterix, diversion cannot mean something that diverts or amuses, a distraction.

T'as de ces mots !!, literally "you've got such words !", can mean depending on the context "the word(s) you just used is/are surprising, inappropriate, sophisticated, or unknown to me !"

As diversion is unlikely to be unknown to a soldier, the only reasonable explanation is the soldier strongly disagree and considers n'était qu'une diversion to be an understatement comparing to the attack he endured.

5

It's an exclamation of unspecified sarcasm/disbelief.

That is, from the point of view of those who just got trounced, it doesn't make much of a frickin' difference that this was "just" a distraction.

  • I concur with this explanation. – Frank Mar 25 '17 at 3:36
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As Circeus mentioned, it is an expression of sarcasm, which literally translates to "You've got such words". A reasonable English equivalent could be:

A diversion? Some word you've got for it!

  • 1
    Or perhaps, “Diversion is hardly the word (for it)!”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 26 '17 at 7:58

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