2

You don’t exactly take up learning Polish by finding their accents appealing...

To express this idea, the following sentence construction sprang to mind:

Ce n’est pas parce qu’on est attiré par l'accent polonais qu’on se met à apprendre la langue...

{I mean}: L'accent polonais, ce n’est pas vraiment ce qui nous incite à apprendre la langue...

But I wonder if this construction is ambiguous enough to give rise to two possible interpretations:


On one hand, if the "ce n'est pas X que Y" expression is intended, it will lead to the following interpretation (1):

(There are various factors that may prompt you to take up learning Polish), but their accents are not one of them...

{... and this is exactly what I intended my French sentence to mean}

"Ce n’est pas parce que A que B" is interpreted as "it's not because of A that you do B".


On the other hand, if you consider the word "pas" to be negating the part "qu’on se met ...", it will lead to the other interpretation (2):

You don't (necessarily) take up learning Polish just because you find their accents appealing...

{... here, it's taken as a given that Polish accents are appealing to you, but you'll need more incentive than that to actually commit yourself to learning Polish}

"Ce n’est pas parce que A que B" is interpreted as "even if/though A is true, it doesn't mean B".

  • 2
    I would solve the ambiguity by adding "seulement" in the sentence: "Ce n’est pas seulement parce qu’on est attiré par l'accent polonais qu’on se met à apprendre la langue." – Ksyqo Aug 16 '17 at 5:34
3

Ce n’est pas parce qu’on est attiré par l'accent polonais qu’on se met à apprendre la langue.

Intuitively, in a vacuum, this reads as

Just because you find the Polish accent appealing doesn't mean you're going to want to learn Polish.

However, in spoken French, depending where the locutor puts the emphasis, it could mean "it's certainly not the Polish accent that will make you..."

It could also be the case with written French if the context wants it.

It is actually quite difficult to encapsulate that nuance in meaning in a single isolated sentence without a context. An additional adverb could help, such as

On ne se met pas au polonais simplement parce que l'accent nous plait.

or for the alternate meaning,

Ce n'est certainement pas l'accent polonais qui fait qu'on se met à apprendre la langue.

2

Yes, the sentence is ambiguous.

I would suggest:

Ce n'est pas l'accent polonais qui peut inciter quelqu'un à apprendre cette langue.

0

No, the sentence is not ambiguous at all. « Ce n'est pas parce que A que B » = "A is not a reason to B", "We don't B because A". « Ce n'est pas parce que l'on est attiré par l'accent polonais que l'on apprend la langue » = « Notre attirance pour l'accent polonais ne fait pas partie des raisons pour lesquelles on veut apprendre la langue ».

  • Hi. So which of the two interpretations do you go with? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 15 '17 at 11:12
  • "(There are various factors that may prompt you to take up learning Polish), but their accents are not one of them…" – user8171079 Aug 15 '17 at 11:15
  • Thank you. Then I think I need to put forth a counter argument: « Ce n’est pas parce que j’habite à Paris que j’aime cette ville. » In this specific instance, the 2nd interpretation seems to hold water: « J’habite à Paris, certes, mais ça veut pas dire pour autant que j’aime cette ville. » – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 15 '17 at 11:32
  • If you apply the 1st interpretation here, it will be more like: « Le fait que j’habite à Paris, ce n’est pas vraiment ce qui me fait aimer cette ville. (C’est pour une autre raison.) » – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 15 '17 at 11:32
0

A less literal translation would be:

L'accent du polonais n'incite pas vraiment à apprendre la langue.

This translation convey clearly a mening of dismay about the Polish accent, which seems to be the case with the original sentence. IMO, the construction:

Ce n'est pas parce qu'on est attiré par l'accent polonais qu'on se met à apprendre la langue

seems to indicate a more positive attitude about the accent.

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