I am translating this sentence from French to English, and I am a little confused about the final clause: "sur le plan intellectual ou de la satisfaction".

On m'a parlé de certaines professions où on gagne un tas d'argent, mais qui à la longue se révèlent décevantes, sur le plan intellectuel ou de la satisfaction.

I have been told about certain professions where one earns a lot of money, but in the long run turn out disappointing, ...?

One way to translate the final clause is "intellectually or satisfactorily", which I got from Google Translate, but I am confused on a couple points.

First, does the preposition sur apply to both phrases, "le plan intellectual" and "de la satisfaction", or just the first of these two? This would make a big difference in my understanding.

Second, is le plan intellectuel an idiomatic way of saying "intellectually"? Why not simply, intellectuellement? Is the former more common than the latter?


1 Answer 1


sur le plan + adjective — {intellectuel}

{or}: sur le plan + de + definite article + noun — {de la satisfaction}

This is a commonly used set expression that more or less corresponds to "from an X(intellectual) point of view" or "on an X(intellectual) level" in English.

In some instances, you could indeed get away with simply translating it into "~~~ly" such as "intellectually", but it can also be misleading and insufficient at times.

For instance, "de façon/manière intellectuelle" too translates as "intellectually", but you cannot replace "sur le plan intellectuel" in your example with "de façon/manière intellectuelle" that essentially means "in an X(intellectual) way".

They seem similar on the surface, but actually mean entirely different things.

The adverb "intellectuellement" alone does not strictly serve as the equivalent of "sur le plan intellectuel" in your example, though you can still say "se révéler intellectuellement décevant".

You can also substitute the expression "(X)intellectuellement parlant" for "sur le plan intellectuel".

  • Merci, Alone-zee. C'est très utile. Une question (en anglais). What would be a good translation of the whole? One idea would be, from the point of view of intellect or satisfaction, but this just doesn't have a good ring to it. I think the weird thing, from a translation point of view, is that the French uses an adjective (intellectuel) and a noun (satisfaction), where in English a construction like this will usually employ two adjectives, or two nouns, but not a mix of adjective and noun.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 5:49
  • Perhaps the best approach here would be a liberal translation, but I'm interested in your opinion of how to translate the entire clause.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 5:52
  • 1
    @ktm5124 In French, you'll never say "sur le plan satisfaisant", just as you don't say "from a satisfactory point of view" in English. The lack of a suitable adjective necessitates the use of the alternate structure "sur le plan + de + definite article + noun". Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 6:10
  • 1
    @ktm5124 Despite the apparent two-phased nature of the phrase "sur le plan intellectuel ou de la satisfaction", the idea of "satisfaction" is, to all intents and purposes, carried over into the first part "sur le plan intellectuel" as well, since its implied meaning basically boils down to "satisfying your intellectual curiosity". I'd say:"... prove disappointing, when it comes to offering satisfaction, intellectual or otherwise." Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 6:32
  • Merci à nouveau. C'est bon et utile.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 6:34

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