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Deepl says "I have got to stop pitying myself" is given by « Je dois arrêter de m'apitoyer sur moi-même ». The reflexive on apitoyer makes the moi-même seem redundant to me and the translation of to pity myself seems a bit convoluted here. Is Deepl's way the best way to express this sentence?

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  • Deepl and company are not a measure of anything. Are we being asked to edit that?
    – Lambie
    Oct 30 '21 at 13:22
  • avoir pitié de moi-même.
    – Lambie
    Oct 30 '21 at 23:22
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TL;DR: The reason why it's not redundant is because the verb "apitoyer" is not equivalent to "pity" in English. Instead, it means something like "create a feeling of pity". The reflexive form "s'apitoyer" means "create a feeling of pity felt by yourself" or simply understood as "feel pity", but you still have to mention about what.


The word or emotion "pity" is more flexible in English and you can use it both as a verb and a noun. In French, we can't use pity as a verb. We either have pity for (avoir pitié) or we feel pity for (ressentir de la pitié).

Now, we do have the verb "apitoyer", which means "susciter la pitié". I have a hard time finding a good translation for "susciter" because I don't think the English language has this verb. I found online "create, arouse, excite, etc", but think of it as a verb meaning all of these in one term.

Knowing this, if you try to "apitoyer" someone, you will try to create or arouse a feeling of pity for something. If you use the reflexive form of this verb, you're now creating a feeling of pity felt by yourself, but we still don't know about what. Here's some literal translations:

  • Je dois arrêter d'avoir pitié de moi-même (I have to stop having/feeling pity for myself).
  • Je cherche à l'apitoyer sur mon sort (I'm trying to "create" a feeling [by him] of pity towards myself).
  • Je dois arrêter de m'apitoyer sur mon sort (I have to stop "creating" a feeling [by me] of pity towards myself).

Notice that I used "mon sort" because "s'apitoyer sur son sort" is a set phrase in French meaning the same thing and will probably be preferred by a native speaker with the verb "apitoyer". Keep in mind that "s'apitoyer" is adding a stronger connotation. The "creation" (susciter) of the pity feeling adds a certain nuance. When you say "m'apitoyer", you also get the feeling of you contributing to it voluntarily in a detrimental manner, it's roughly equivalent to: "I have to stop [making me] pity myself [because it prevents me from doing things and evolve, move on, etc.]". The first example is simply "I feel pity towards myself", without the stronger nuance.

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    i want to thank you for putting the effort into this reply; i know it can take a lot of effort to write such in-depth answers. it's these kinds of nuances (between different, but related, verbs) that are difficult for learners of French for me to learn; but posts like yours help build the neural pathways that will help develop an intuition for such nuances.
    – silph
    Oct 30 '21 at 5:43
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No, it's not redundant. The reflexive pronoun refers to who feels pity, and what comes after is what that person feels pity about.

For apitoyer, the wiktionary gives as one of the examples:

Rien ne put l’apitoyer sur mon sort.

"mon sort" here meaning "my fate", "my lot".

The pronoun l' and the object mon sort point to different people.

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