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I have heard the following dialogue in the TV series Marseille:

  • Ce stade, c'est l'âme de Marseille, le ciment de la ville. Le vendre, ce serait trahir les Marseillais et trahir nous-mêmes.
  • On peut discuter, putain! On dirait du Taro, là!

Context: The mayor of Marseille and his advisors are discussing about the possibility of selling the Marseille stadium. Taro is the former mayor of Marseille.

I have initially understood "On dirait du Taro, là!" as "We would say that of Taro" (which does not make sense in the context), but the English subtitle translation is "You sound like Taro" (which makes much more sense). Could someone explain how the French sentence could mean that? AFAIK "dire qqch de qqn" means "say something of someone". I'd say "Vous parlez comme Taro" instead to express the intended meaning, which sounds clearer and less ambiguous to me.

  • It's frustrating to have my question downvoted and voted to be closed without any justification. If this is a duplicate, please mention it. I have not found an existing FSE question which answered my question. – Alan Evangelista Apr 17 at 13:38
  • Yes, it's very frustrating. I still don't understand why there is no justifications on closing, despite the recommendations of SE. The only think that I can tell you is that the justification here is "Not suitable for this site: We are not a text translation or proofreading service.". I disagree with this, as you don't ask for a translation, but an explanation of the expression in context. It cannot be found in a dictionary. – Quidam Apr 20 at 6:54
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You sound like Taro seems a very good translation.

On dirait means it looks/sounds like:

On dirait qu'il va pleuvoir.

On dirait bien qu'il n'est pas content.

Then, you can use it with a direct complement, it is then used to mean that someone/something looks or sounds like someone/something else.

J'ai vu une photo de toi en tenue de soirée, on dirait une star !

Quand tu parles sérieusement, on dirait Emmanuel Macron.

On the other side, you can use the partitive du with a person's name. It means then "some pieces of this person's work", or "something done in this person's typical style". Note that the masculine "du" is used even with a female person.

J'aime écouter du Bach, du Mozart, mais aussi du Queen ou du Nirvana.

Ce discours, c'est du Angela Merkel tout craché (tout craché meaning anyone would recognize it, it is her very recognizable style).

Then, you can even combine on dirait with a partitive du + a person's name to stress that something is done in a style that is reminiscent of this person:

Regarde ce tableau, on dirait du Picasso.

J'ai entendu un morceau à la radio, on aurait dit du Daft Punk.

Quand elle chante comme ça, on dirait du Mariah Carey.

This is what the sentence means in your excerpt: this person talks or acts in the same manner as Taro. Compared to vous parlez comme Taro, the meaning is the same, but it conveys a bit more the connotation that the speaker does not like this way of talking, as it reminds too much of Taro's personal tone (which he/she possibly despises).

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  • Thanks for the very clear answer! This meaning of "on" is odd. I thought it could only mean "we" or be used in general contexts in which it means "anyone", "everybody" (ex: on peut fumer ici). I assume that "on dirait" is an idiomatic expression and translating it literally makes no sense. Just one last question: does "là" mean "there" in this sentence? If so, I assume that the meaning of the sentence does not change at all if I omit it? – Alan Evangelista Apr 16 at 18:32
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    "Là" does not mean much, just something like "right now", "as we are speaking". Some people tend to use that "là" a lot at the end of sentences with no "real" meaning, a bit like "you know" in English. – Greg Apr 16 at 18:48
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    And yes, the "on" is the impersonnel "on" here, not the familiar form for "nous", literaly it means "anyone may tell". linternaute.fr/dictionnaire/fr/definition/on-dirait-que – Greg Apr 16 at 18:50
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"On dirait du xxx" "Tu fais ton xxx" "Tu fais du xxx"

Prenons une personne qui a un comportement stéréotypé en particulier.
Par exemple, supposons que Pinocchio est un personnage réel, un ami à vous, que vous connaissez dans la vraie vie.
Son comportement stéréotypé à lui, c'est de mentir tout le temps, c'est un menteur pathologique, et il est de très mauvaise foi.

Si, par exemple, je parle avec un autre ami, et que nous connaissons tous deux cette personne, et son trait de personnalité particulier, menteur de mauvaise foi, je peux dire à cette personne, quand elle me dit:

Lui:- Non, je n'ai pas caché l'as sous les autres cartes.
Moi:- Arrête ! Tu fais ton Pinocchio là! Ne fais pas ton Pinocchio !

On aura du + nom-de-la-personne, ou ton + nom-de-la-personne transformé en nom (substantifié), pour désigner ce trait de personnalité particulier typique de la personne de laquelle on a pris le nom, mais appliqué à une autre personne ou à un autre contexte.

On peut appliquer cela à n'importe qui, à condition qu'on s'entende sur le trait de personnalité désigné par le nom.

Par exemple:
Arrête ! Tu fais du Macron là!

Tout dépend du trait de personnalité du président Macron qu'on veut souligner et mettre en scène.

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