John Oliver covered the French election in the last show and played a clip from Jacques Cheminade about a minute into this video.


John Oliver says this translates as "Larry Skywalker and that weird bear". My question is what are the exact words used and is that an accurate translation? As far as I can tell he says "l'espèce d'ours" so where does weird come from? Is it just implicit from the way he talks that the bear is weird or is it a literal meaning of one of the words used?

2 Answers 2


Sure, "weird bear" is a fair translation. The phrase « espèce de + nom » can mean various things. It could be quite neutral: "A sort of bear." Or it could jokingly mean that you can't quite tell what kind it is: "Some kinda bear." It's also a relatively mild curse if it were exclaimed on its own: "(You) stupid bear!"

For reference, here's a transcription from 0:58 – 1:13:

Aujourd'hui on n'a pas de vraie politique de l'espace. On traîne de vieux objets bringuebalants, comme les vieilles fusées de Star Wars. Ça marche en Star Wars, avec l'espèce d'ours et Larry Skywalker, mais ça marche pas en réalité.

And here's my attempt at a translation:

Today we have no real politics of space. We drag around these shaky old things like the outdated rockets in Star Wars. It works in Star Wars, for that kinda bear thing and Larry Skywalker, but it doesn't work in reality.

  • 2
    Should be "like the outdated rockets in Star Wars", not guns.
    – jlliagre
    Apr 18, 2017 at 12:22
  • Whoops! Thanks. Somehow got confused between fusil and fusée...
    – Luke Sawczak
    Apr 18, 2017 at 13:11

In that case l’espèce d'ours plus the way he says it means that weird bear. It is not a litteral translation.

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