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Yesterday I was helping a student translate a story she'd written from English to French.

It contained this exchange between two people on surfboards about to ride a terrifyingly big wave:

— You ready?
— Ready as I'll ever be.

The answer given is a stock expression (the subject can change but nothing else).

It's easy enough to give a literal translation; one might say:

Aussi prêt que jamais je le serai.

However, I don't think this captures the tone or all the meaning of the idiomatic English phrase.

Je ne suis pas vraiment prêt, mais je crois que ne le deviendrai pas en restant dans l'attente. Je sais que tôt ou tard il faudra agir et au moins je suis suffisament prêt pour surmonter ma crainte.

Is there an equivalent stock expression in French? Or can the literal translation convey all that?

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    Followed @Tensibai's suggestion and added a tiny bit more context (the characters are surfing). I'm excited by the range of options so far! I'll decide on one after thinking about it a little more. – Luke Sawczak Jun 21 '17 at 15:01
  • Lots of good choices to go over with the student and see which one fits best. Thanks, everyone. – Luke Sawczak Jun 21 '17 at 18:25
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I would use this idiomatic expression but it might be a bit too formal/literary:

— Autant que faire se peut !

To keep in the colloquial tone used in the English dialog, that might be simplified to:

— Autant que je peux !

— Je peux pas être plus !

or, as suggested by Tensibai:

— Autant que possible !

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    Or in a more usual tone 'Autant que possible' ? – Tensibai Jun 21 '17 at 8:48
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    @Tensibai Yes, my suggestion is lacking the coloquial tone used in the English dialog. – jlliagre Jun 21 '17 at 10:15
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It's possible to use plus prêt que jamais which as an answer would often be shortened as follows:

— Tu es prêt ?
— Plus que jamais !

Another very common phrase is “C'est maintenant ou jamais !”.

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    I'd say 'Plus que jamais' convey a positive meaning ('Absolutely ready') which doesn't really match the meaning described in the question. – Tensibai Jun 21 '17 at 8:47
  • @Tensibai Hi. I'm intrigued by a "positive" connotation you say this phrase carries. I might say something like: "je le déteste plus que jamais, crois-moi". Do you find this odd at all? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jun 21 '17 at 10:52
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    @Alone-zee you're right, what I mean is that it carries a accomplished or final level of implication, in my understanding it implies the subject can't go farther in implication, so when asked about being ready, it sounds like 'I can't be better prepared than I am actually'. My understanding is that 'jamais' refers to past only and doesn't account for potential future of the situation. For your example it could be 'I hate you more than I ever did before, trust me' which I hope help illustrating what I mean. – Tensibai Jun 21 '17 at 12:20
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    One possibility, although it has a slightly different meaning, but could fit the story, would be "Antant en finir". – TonioElGringo Jun 21 '17 at 14:55
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A more litteral translation would be

Je n'ai jamais été aussi prêt

  • Okay, but that seems to mean: "I'm the most excited that I've ever been!" While it's a nice idiomatic phrase, I think it conveys the opposite of the hesitation needed. – Luke Sawczak Jun 21 '17 at 15:04
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For the added context my expression of choice would be:

Quand faut y aller, faut y aller

It is used to self encourage for something frightening one want to do (sky diving, surf riding a big wave seems to match IMHO). It can also be used as an encouragement against procrastinating a difficult task.


Another variation which may convey this meaning is

À la guerre comme à la guerre but more aimed at something reluctant to do or when you have very limited possibility to do it.

It is used to express this very idea of something one is uncomfortable to do but will do with what is available.
I can't tell if it really fit without insight on which action 'You ready ?' refers to.

  • Hmm, that's an interesting one but it seems to suggest that what holds one back is guilt or the potential wrongness of the action. I've added the context that this is while surfing. :) – Luke Sawczak Jun 21 '17 at 15:03
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    Indeed. In this context, I'd go for 'Quand (il) faut y aller, (il) faut y aller', which is usually used for something a little frightening you want to do anyway (surf riding a big wave sounds exactly the case) – Tensibai Jun 21 '17 at 15:08
  • I'm agreeing with 'faut y aller', NOT with 'a la guerre', incidetally. – user13512 Jun 22 '17 at 18:29
  • @George indeed, 'à ma guerre' was my first though not already in another answer, but it does carry a sense of fatalism I wasn't sure would match the context, I left it for completeness. Do you think I should emphasis the fatalistic tone of this option? – Tensibai Jun 22 '17 at 20:59
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    @tensibai absolutely! There's a real feeling of agency in 'faut y aller', you don't like it one bit but you're still going deliberately, it's more of an internal sense of duty, and nothing of the sort in 'a la guerre', where all control is resolutely out of your hands. Haven't been in a war myself though :-).. – user13512 Jun 22 '17 at 21:42
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Another current expression is:

C'est quand tu veux !

Well, it does not fully answer You ready?, but it is very common in French, and it seems coherent with the language register used in your example.

  • Missing all the subtexts of difficulty and reluctance. – user13512 Jun 22 '17 at 18:29

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