I’ve been stuck on this phrase for a while. I don’t know why it’s giving me so much trouble, but I know that “ll est en train de se” means something someone is currently doing, however, I don’t really understand the portion of “payer ma tête” and I don’t know how the “en plus?” Is there as well, since I thought “en plus” meant moreover or in addition to. Overall, I’m just stuck on the “payer ma tête” portion of the sentence since it translates to something odd.

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payer ma tête - > to make fun on me

en plus - > You were correct with the meaning of in addition to. Here, in addition to... what the subject had done or said previously.

But this en plus can also implicitely mean that the subject does obviously not qualify for making fun on me.

These two meanings could also be expressed with c'est le comble as in that's the last straw displaying some... irritation.

English could say : on top of that.

Il est en train de se payer ma tête, en plus => On top of that, he is making fun on me.

  • Is "to make fun on sb" a new way to say "to make fun of sb", recently legitimized? I can't find a trace of it anywhere… – LPH Dec 5 at 9:17
  • @LPH : New ? Hmmm not quite! You can find it in mid XIXth century books. – aCOSwt Dec 5 at 9:26
  • @aCOSwt "make fun of" is the form in common usage. I've never heard or read "on" in this well-known phrase. – Harry Audus Dec 6 at 21:46
  • @HarryAudus : I certainly won't blame you for not reading Ioannis Night (The legend of the Shepherd)... But don't tell me that you missed Marietta Holley. I understand from Wikip that her writing was frequently compared to that of Mark Twain! (Samantha in Europe) So... Well... I'll acknowledge... It's not that common! And then ? – aCOSwt Dec 6 at 22:49

The expression se payer la tête de quelqu'un is stronger than se moquer de quelqu'un.

The latter is close to openly "making fun of someone" while the former is a softer variant of se foutre de la gueule de quelqu'un where most notion of "fun" has disappeared, replaced by lies, cheat, betrayal and then often implies the victim is unaware of it, at least on the beginning.

An (American) English translation might be to mess with someone or even to fuck with someone.

I would then try to translate:

Il est en train de se payer ma tête, en plus ?

with:

Plus, isn't he messing with me behind my back?

En train de

Indeed, it conveys the idea that “il” is currently doing the action later mentioned in the sentence. Something commonly carried by the continuous tenses of English.


Se payer ma tête

First, the expression will be se payer la tête de quelqu’un”. The pronominal use of the verb changes its meaning slightly. The meaning of “se payer qqch” in this case is “to treat oneself with smthg”:

  • Je me suis payé une journée de repos → I treated myself with a day off

How do we treat ourselves with someone else’s head, though? Well, it’s a bit of a going back and forth in the human body structure. First, the head is the physical support of the face. Then, the face itself is a valid representation of a person as a whole: the whole body would perhaps be more complete, but the face is enough in a lot of cases, even on legal photo ID’s, where other body features can be put as words or numbers. And so the word tête in the expression represents the whole person.

And so we treat ourselves with someone else. There could be several ways to indulge in this kind of pleasure, but the sole meaning retained in French for this expression has to see with actively enjoying the situation someone gets him- or herself into:

  • by relentlessly teasing the person

or

  • by actively/noisily/showily making fun of their acts or words.

En plus ?

It is used as an exclamation that expresses surprise, sometimes a pleasant one, sometimes not so much. There is also, as mentioned in the other answers, the idea of something added (plus) to an already existing circumstance.

For example if someone not only prepared a fastuous meal, but also some ridiculously decadent dessert as well, in English one could say: “...and you even made that dessert on top of it all!?”. A French equivalent could be: “...et en plus, tu as préparé ce dessert !?” or “...et, tu as préparé ce dessert en plus !?”

In this case, we can expect something happened to me (whoever the me of the example is), and on top of perhaps injuring myself, or being booted out of somewhere, or burning my car by mistake, or looking like a fool talking about my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend while not realizing she moved in the room, or whatever else unpleasant happened to me, I have to cope with people teasing me.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that negative. My pants could have come down while I was juggling in the park, and I could be laughing at myself just the way my friends do, but feign indignation to increase everyone’s hilarity.

  • 1
    +1... rien que pour le succulent : "ridiculously decadent dessert"... j'adore... même si... je sais que nous ne partageons pas la même opinion sur ce qui est... préférable de réserver à l'implicite! ;-) Mais oui évidemment... nos âges nous autorisent bien à expliciter... de toutes manières... l'implicite du bon vieux temps... qui le comprend encore ? C'est pas pour être compris qu'à nos âges on reste dans l'implicite c'est juste pour... se marrer. Enfin... moi je me marre quoi. – aCOSwt Dec 5 at 21:25

The expression se payer la tête de means se moquer de quelqu'un / to make fun of somebody.

The en plus part adds something to the sentence to render that the person is probably not just making fun of somebody, as in “adding insult to injury”.

The sentence can be understood as:

Is he making fun of me as well / on top of that?

You can find se payer la tête on Wiktionary.

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