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How does one translate into French "I had the shit beaten out of me"?

I am writing, in French, a short biography of the Australian painter Ben Quilty. He uses these words to describe his time at school: "I had the shit flogged out of me by Brother Luke", a key to his strength of feeling for the underdog.

  • We need more context. Is this utterance related to a specific event or not? – Stéphane Gimenez Nov 8 '18 at 12:04
  • @Stéphane Gimenez♦ Yes. It never (as far as I can imagine) could refer to anything but an event, whether single or repeated. – Harry Audus Nov 8 '18 at 21:43
  • If you don't know anything about it, you can only expect a best guess translation then. – Stéphane Gimenez Nov 9 '18 at 10:28
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    Granted, one might not need to know "The specific context (for what it's worth)" to understand the exact quote at issue, but knowing the context does tempt me to want to (playfully/cynically) expand the original quote to "had the HOLY shit flogged out of me," or even to change it to "had the DEVIL flogged out of me"! – Papa Poule Nov 10 '18 at 17:24
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    @nonobstant fascisme : In olden times, the word "flogged" implied the use of a whip. These days, and particularly in Australia, "flogged" simply means "beaten hard", with or without an instrument. Since Quilty is talking about his Catholic school, a stick or cane is most likely to have been used. – Harry Audus Nov 15 '18 at 9:50
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« être battu comme plâtre » is fine for situations such as fist fighting. In the case of flogging one can use "fouetter jusqu'au sang". The register of those expressions is however current. There does not exist, apparently, a phrase that would include the word "merde".

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In the context of an abuse, for the description of a one time event,

  • you could use:

    Brother Luke m'a foutu une (putain de) raclée.

    Note that foutu is already vulgar language, probably as much as shit is, but you can add putain de if you'd like to insist on that aspect.

  • or at the expense of a significant language register mismatch you could use:

    Il ne m'a pas raté.

    It probably fits better if it's used as some kind of a “punchline” (pun not intended).

In the case of a general description of repeated events, the first one can be modified slightly like so:

Il me mettait des putains de raclées.

Note that I chose to discard “Il me foutait” because it lacks solemnity.

Just in case, any other familiar expression I thought of before knowing the context would forbid sexual violence connotations (if there was any) and most of them wouldn't be quite suited to describe “physical abuse” by a person in charge in any case anyway. I guess there are more but they didn't come to mind yet.

  • The most objectionable problem in those translations is the total ignorance of the whip and that is a drawback not to neglect in the light of an always present necessity of preserving as much as possible factualness and consistency in the picture painted to the reader. Isn't it preferable to sacrifice vulgarity to the whip? – LPH Nov 10 '18 at 13:58
  • @LPH: the whip is the least of the OP's many problems. – Stéphane Gimenez Nov 10 '18 at 14:23
  • @Stéphane Gimenez: It was in fact a frequent occurrence, but can you explain further why you wouldn't use "il me foutait"? – Harry Audus Nov 10 '18 at 21:58
  • “Il me foutait” sounds more like something you'd say casually. – Stéphane Gimenez Nov 11 '18 at 16:11
  • @Stéphane Gimenez: Quilty is an Australian, and like most Australians, speaks very informally even in interviews, like the one in which he spoke those words. – Harry Audus Nov 11 '18 at 21:40
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I would suggest:

Je me suis pris des putain de branlées par frère Luke.

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