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In this video from 2:55 to 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSnZzHiefvc&ab_channel=JEAN-LUCM%C3%89LENCHON Mélenchon says « ça suffit de toujours tondre les mêmes » which when I tried to translate in DeepL came out as "It's enough to always shear the same" which doesn't make any sense in English. What is Mélenchon trying to express here?

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    Tondre au sens figuré : TLF A 2, Robert. Indeed DeepL missed something here because although shear is the correct word, in English in this figurative sense it is only used in the passive voice. dictionary.cambridge.org/fr/dictionnaire/anglais/shear: to be shorn of. Does it make sense now or do you need a complete answer?
    – None
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 6:47
  • @None So in this instance I should translate it as "It's enough to always take power money from the same people"? Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 6:52
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    just "take from the same" (meaning the rich in the context, but I gathered you had got that). But Ça suffit in this context would be translated as "we've had enough". I'll develop that point.
    – None
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 7:04
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    Simply a bad translation honestly, it should be something like: "Stop always shearing the same ones", then the image becomes much clearer.
    – Simon
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 9:22
  • Frankly, for the register, I'd go with: Stop always taking the same ones to the cleaners.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 18:57

2 Answers 2

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There are two points to consider in the way you could tackle this sentence.

Tondre is used here in its figurative sense:

TLF (A2)

Au fig., fam. Se laisser tondre (la laine sur le dos). Se laisser exploiter, supporter avec patience les vexations.

LeRobert:

au figuré Tondre qqn, le dépouiller de son argent.

Mélenchon could have used dépouiller here, the meaning would be similar but tondre is in keeping with Mélenchon's style.

In English "shear" can also be used in the same figurative meaning but in the passive voice. It is usually given in bilingual dictionaries as a phrasal verb in a separate entry. Oxford Learners', Cambridge.

So the idea is "to take from" but intensified. If I had to translate this sentence I would either stick to "shear" or intensify "take".

Ça suffit just translated by "it's enough" is not sufficient. We are missing something.

  • – Tiens, goûte, est-ce que je dois rajouter un peu de sel à ton avis ? – Non, ça suffit. (No, it's enough).

  • – Arrêtez votre vacarme ! Vous faites trop de bruit, ça suffit. (That's enough/we've had enough).

French would not necessarily differentiate between the two where English would.

One way to translate the sentence could be:

  • The government always strips the same/takes everything from the same, that's enough.

with the variant :

  • We've had enough of having the government always...

But lots of other translations come to mind.

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« Tondre » is a figurative and colloquial usage; it is also a deprecatory term as, through the analogy with the sheep being shorn, people of whom it is said that they are being "shorn" are often considered implicitly as being sheepish.

(TLFi) − P. anal., fam. Dépouiller quelqu'un complètement.
♦ Saccard, bien que ruiné pour le moment, était encore bon à tondre. (Zola, Argent, 1891, p. 37)
♦ Tondre le contribuable sans qu'il se révolte, voilà tout l'art du grand homme d'État et du grand financier. (Sorel, Réflex. violence, 1908, p. 342)

You can translate this word in the standard English register by « to skin ».

(Harrap's) tondre
tondre le contribuable — to skin the taxpayers

In the present context, "ça suffit" means that a certain practice (which is enunciated just after) has to be stopped, that going on with it would be excessive or outrageous depending on the given case. So, in English the rendering can be as follows.

  • This practice of skinning always the same people must come to an end.
  • We have to put an end to this practice of skinning always the same people.

As a synonym in French the following sentence would do.

  • Il faut arrêter de tondre toujours les mêmes personnes.

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