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Here is some rules text from a Magic: the Gathering card (MtG is a collectible card game) called "Enlèvement par les lanternes":

Si l'Enlèvement par les lanternes devait être mis dans un cimetière d'où qu'il vienne, exilez-le à la place.

The English language version (called "Lanterns' Lift") has the following rules text:

If Lanterns' Lift would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, exile it instead.

The DeepL translation of the French version I quoted above is:

If the Removal by Lanterns were to be put in a cemetery from wherever it came from, exile it instead.

The DeepL translation seems quite useless: "from whenever it came from" seems to give no clarifying meaning:

  • That is "If [this card] would be put into a graveyard from wherever it came from" seems to mean exactly the same as: "If [this card] would be put into a graveyard".
  • In contrast, he English's "from anywhere" serves to clarify or empahize that it doesn't matter where the card came from before it was put into a graveyard.

(Normally in this card game, typically rules text only cares about when cards are put into the graveyard from "the battefield", even though cards can also be put into the graveyard from "a player's hand" or "a player's library" or "the stack"; so this clarification "from anywhere" makes sense to write out explicitly).

QUESTION:

  1. Why was "d'où qu'il vienne" chosen to translate "from anywhere", instead of "de n'import où"?
  2. Despite "from wherever it came from" not having any clarifying meaning in English, does "d'où qu'il vienne" have a clarifying meaning for French speakers?
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  • I just clicked on your link. Those cards on the page are a mixture of French text and English text. None of the text makes much sense. Asking about "d'où qu'il vient" is one thing but in that sentence the antecedent is graveyard, which makes no sense. I don't understand how Hasbro creates or maintains these texts because they are awful. Truly awful. Also, these terms enlèvement and lift are not translations of each other at all and also make no sense.
    – Lambie
    Nov 20, 2021 at 15:52
  • For example: If Lanterns' Lift would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, exile it instead. should be: were put. Bur that's not the worst of it....
    – Lambie
    Nov 20, 2021 at 15:58
  • @Lambie I suppose I've been playing the game so long, that the English makes perfect sense to me and doesn't sound awkward at all! I'm trying to see how the English sounds strange or incomprehensible for someone who's never played the game before, but I can't -- I'm literally blind to being able to see the text as if I never played the game before..! (e.g. "Are you making dinner, honey? If you would put meat in the soup as usual, instead don't do that. I invited my vegetarian friends over tonight" sounds fine to me?)
    – silph
    Nov 20, 2021 at 16:11
  • Ok, well, here, this might help you: It isn't, if you would put meat in the soup. If you put or were to put meat in the soup, it would taste better**". The would does not go in the IF clause. You have repeated this misplacement of would in several places., I saw some other weird stuff on the cards too but can't remember the sentence without looking at the link. The DeepL translation also makes this mistake.
    – Lambie
    Nov 20, 2021 at 16:22
  • If you put meat in the soup, please take it out. No would.
    – Lambie
    Nov 20, 2021 at 16:26

2 Answers 2

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Acknowledging the comments about the questionable grammar in that context, we can still learn something something about the particular phrase « d'où qu'il vienne ».

We can state the rule thus: a question pronoun plus que means "____ever", which we could also translate "any ____" or "no matter ____" depending on the context.

Question Formula ____ever Any ____ No matter ____
Où que ce soit Wherever it is Anywhere No matter where
D'où D'où que cela vienne Wherever it's from From anywhere No matter where from
Quoi Quoi que ce soit Whatever it is Anything No matter what
Quel Quel qu'il soit What/whoever it is Anything / any one No matter what/who
Qui Qui que ce soit Whoever it is Anyone No matter who

(Also see Personne's note re: Quel qu'il soit vs. Quel que soit ____)

However, some question words don't seem to work here and have to be paraphrased. I notice that English "____ever" doesn't work well with this set either, for whatever reason (!).

Question Formula Any ____ No matter ____
Pourquoi Pour quelque raison que ce soit For any reason No matter the reason
Quand Quelle que soit l'heure / la date At any time No matter the time
Comment Quelle que soit la manière In any way No matter how
Combien Quel que soit le montant Any amount No matter how much

... This formula can be used with the first table, too: "quel/quelle/quels que soit l'endroit, l'origine, la chose, la personne, etc." but it feels less elegant to me.

Hopefully this observation generally holds up. I invite correction if I've mischaracterized it.

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  • 1
    i'm pretty sure that this is likely to clarify completely my confusions. also clarifies the "Quoi que ce soit" that i often see, but couldn't find explained in my usual grammar websites. thanks! i still have to think about the difference between "D'où que ce vienne" and "De n'importe où", but i can ask another question if i can't figure that out.
    – silph
    Nov 20, 2021 at 14:40
  • @silph Glad it helps. Because you mentioned how often it comes up in the wild, I'll add a third column to the first table with a common meaning (which you've probably already deduced)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Nov 20, 2021 at 14:44
  • "No matter where it is from". I just don't see why no one clicked on the link to see the "cards". The French and English are so bad.....So, it is a waste of time since the antecedent in the card is clearly the cemetery, and the phrase makes zero sense there.
    – Lambie
    Nov 20, 2021 at 16:07
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    @Lambie Yeah, both original texts are pretty bad, but the phrase « d'où qu'il soit » and those like it analyzed independently are still useful to learn, I think.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Nov 20, 2021 at 16:48
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    Yes, it just I would have put a great, big caveat at the beginning to avoid all the back and forth. :)
    – Lambie
    Nov 20, 2021 at 16:50
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1 - The sentence you quote:

Si l'Enlèvement par les lanternes devait être mis dans un cimetière, d'où qu'il vienne, exilez-le à la place.

is just not proper French. There are no mistakes as such but a French person would not express it like that. We may look at alternate possibilities, and they are not exclusive of each other. First, I'm 99 %1 sure the French text was translated, and most probably automatically translated, or by someone not very good at French. The English and German texts don't sound better.
I don't know the game and I couldn't find in what language it was created but during my search I came upon a forum that makes me think "from anywhere" is a concept in the game, and/or the name of a zone2. If the game has been translated into French and d'où qu'il vienne is the standard translation of the concept, it seems logical the same name is kept for it throughout the game. And in this case you must see it as you would see the name of a country or a town; if we had "France" (or whatever place) instead of où qu'il vienne, this part of the sentence would make perfect sense.

2- DeepL's translation you give (I did not get the same when I tried it!) is correct (except from a "from" in excess) if we consider "from anywhere" is not a concept, and how would DeepL know it is a concept? Machines only know what they have been taught and DeepL has not been meant and trained to translate card games. It's the best translation it could give according to what little context the sentence gives.

3- Here are a few sentences where d'où qu'il vienne is used, it cannot always be translated by "from anywhere":

  • Tout professionnel de santé d’où qu’il vienne est le bienvenu (L'est républicain) (Any health professional from anywhere is welcome, my translation).

  • Le racisme, d'où qu'il vienne, est un crime du cœur et de l'esprit (Jaques Chirac) (Racism, wherever it comes from, is a crime of the heart and mind, my translation).

  • La violence, d'où qu'elle vienne et qui qu'elle vise, est inacceptable (Parlement du Canada) (Violence from anyone and used on anyone is unacceptable and deplorable, translation on the same website).

4- Not taking into account the rest of the sentence in the card game, and so exclusive of any context, I would never say un cimetière d'où qu'il vienne because un cimetière cannot venir, it is firmly set in the ground and no movement can be involved. I would say something like: un cimetière, où qu'il soit situé.


Edit after comments exchanged with OP.
Now that I've been explained a little more what the game is about the sentence would make more sense like that :

D'où qu'il vienne, si l'Enlèvement par les lanternes devait être mis dans un cimetière, exilez-le (la) plutôt.


1 1 % allowed for the fact that I don't speak "games" whatever the language, and I might just be ignorant of a whole semantic field in English and in French.
2 This looks like a definition of the concept, and "from anywhere" is between brackets: "The "from anywhere" part of the ability means that it doesn't care what zone it came from... ".

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  • i suspect that my poor French language understanding, plus your lack of knowledge of the game (not your fault!) makes your response difficult for me to understand -- but thank you for making your response, anyways! the game is originally created in English, and "Whenever [cardname] is put into a graveyard from anywhere" makes perfect sense to my native-English ears. "From anywhere" is not a specific concept in the game. "From anywhere" could be written more precisely as "from any zone", though. I'm not sure if these remarks of mine help clarify details for you, but there they are!
    – silph
    Nov 20, 2021 at 8:29
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    Finally, it is not the graveyard that can venir, but instead a card. "If [cardname] would be put into a graveyard from anywhere" means that in the game, it's typical that a card gets moved from some zone [typically a zone called "the battlefield"], into the zone called "[a certain player's] graveyard". (But now i worry that i only confused you more with this technical talk! And obviously, it's very possible that I misunderstood what you're trying to explain to me)
    – silph
    Nov 20, 2021 at 8:34
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    @silph Ça peut venir de n'importe où →It can come from anywhere. D'où que ça vienne →wherever it comes from. Does it help?
    – None
    Nov 20, 2021 at 11:14
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    @XouDo Pour qui ne connait pas le jeu c'est du charabia (mais corect comme je l'ai dit aussi) et je disais clairement que je me plaçais de ce point de vue, donc hors du jeu, l'OP n'ayant pas donné assez d'explication dans la question. Les explications sont venues après. Restait une question de syntaxe (qui continue à me faire dire que c'est soit une traduction automatique soir une mauvaise maitrise du français) pour que ce soit clair.
    – None
    Nov 20, 2021 at 13:17
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    Yes, and it is incorrect French and incorrect English, both of which appear together in two cards. The texts on each card have half English, half French, none of which make any sense at all. I think this type of junk needs to be called out so Hasbro fixes this type of thing.
    – Lambie
    Nov 20, 2021 at 16:09

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