5

I asked on a learning site the French translation for "many meanings."

I was offered the version of "plusieurs significations."

In the body of my question, I had given as a possible translation the phrase "beaucoup de sens."

Knowing that sens is both meaning and meanings, was not my translation also correct?

  • 1
    Is your question about the difference in meaning between sens & signification (on which case you need to give the context where you want to use the word) about the use of plusieurs (several) vs beaucoup (many/a lot) or about beaucoup de sens which can either mean "a lot of meaning" or "a lot of meanings". A lot of people will use sens and signification as synonyms, but they aren't synonyms. – Laure Jun 26 '17 at 12:21
  • your translation was also correct, and even better imho, since there is no confusion between sens/signification. It just makes more sense, if I can say ;) – Florian Castellane Jun 26 '17 at 15:01
13

Your translation is indeed correct as such, but might be misinterpreted, mainly because sens is written and pronounced the same way singular or plural. Out of any context, beaucoup de sens might mean a lot of sense.

I would indeed use plusieurs significations, or différentes significations but if you want to use your locution, I would then say:

... beaucoup de sens différents.

The différents here implies plural form of sens, translating to meanings instead of meaning.

  • Could I have also used maintes sens? Would this have been old-fashioned? – ΥΣΕΡ26328 Jun 26 '17 at 12:29
  • 5
    Well, technically you could, but maintes is indeed really outdated and I wouldn't use it outside a very formal context. – Laurent S. Jun 26 '17 at 12:53
  • 5
    maintes significations seems better than maintes sens. – Drag and Drop Jun 26 '17 at 13:02
  • 4
    Just to make it clear, a non-negligible part of today's French speakers would not even understand maintes. Besides, maintes sens is wrong, because mainte is feminine. The masculine is maint, so maints sens would be okay. In addition, maint/mainte is used for uncountable nouns, while maints/maintes is used for countable nouns. – Right leg Jun 26 '17 at 21:52
  • 1
    @User26328 - Maintes sens is grammatically incorrect, because maintes is feminine whereas sens is masculine. Maints sens would be grammatically correct. – Pierre-Yves Gaillard Jun 26 '17 at 21:52
8

You could also say: « X a de nombreux sens », « X a des sens multiples » or « X a bien des sens ». It is difficult to translate an expression without knowing the rest of the sentence.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.