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This is in the context of an email exchange, so no body language or voice tone.

If I ask someone the question: Alors, est-ce que ce plan s'intègre bien?

And they reply: Cela ne nous dérange pas.

Is that phrase generally used with a positive intent, like the phrase "no worries" in Australia, or could it be used to mean they don't care?

Addendum 1: To give more context, check my profile and scroll down to the bottom paragraph. In brief, the email is from a relative for whom French is their first language, whereas English is mine. They tend to dumb down their messages for my sake, although I'd prefer they didn't, because my reading in French is much better than my speaking and I can usually work out what they're saying with the help of a dictionary and grammar books. Of course idiomatic stuff is more problematic.

Addendum 2: Whatever the context, I do also want to know how that phrase is used in French in general, so that when I find myself in a similar situation with a stranger, I can use a phrase that does not imply offence when it's not intended and also vice versa.

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  • Sorry, I just found a better translation: And I knew it but it just wouldn't come: se déranger verbe pronominalConjugaison Ne pas se déranger pour, ne pas interrompre ses occupations pour quelqu'un, quelque chose : Ne vous dérangez pas pour moi, je peux me débrouiller seul. It won't interrupt our activities or It won't bother us. larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/d%C3%A9ranger/23974
    – Lambie
    Apr 27 at 20:43
  • @Lambie You are mixing definitions. Déranger is not pronominal in the OP question. Its meaning in the Larousse is the sixth of the transitive form. "It won't bother us" or just "It doesn't bother us" to keep the same tense are potential translations but we really don't know enough about the context to be sure.
    – jlliagre
    Apr 27 at 23:46

3 Answers 3

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This is a figure of style, a euphemism, specifically litotes, like saying "Il ne fait pas chaud" to mean "Il fait froid." French does this a bit, using the negative when other languages might use an affirmative phrase.

"It's fine."

Cela ne nous dérange pas = Cela nous plaît, grosso modo.

Without more context, if you feel doubt on the level of satisfaction, you could respond with Très bien, donc cela vous plaît/convient toujours bien ? ou Sans soucis j'espère.

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  • 1
    I would say it's closer to cela nous indiffère than to cela nous plait.
    – jlliagre
    Apr 24 at 8:29
  • I have edited the OP to clarify both context and intent of the question. Apr 26 at 1:57
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    I think I see your intent more clearly but the context is pretty vague. Is there anything specific you can add to what came before and after? What plan are we talking about, sur le plan subjectif ?
    – livresque
    Apr 26 at 21:37
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Visiting relatives

If the context was visiting relatives, like planning a visit and you frame this as not creating problems, then indeed it may be some form of euphemism. If I now understand cela to refer to your visit rather than its planning, it now feels to me a bit like « you won't bother us one way or the other ».


Had this been a business setting concerning an ongoing project:

Just an impression, but I find the answer underwhelming and slightly off; it feels detached to me. I wonder whether there was more text in the email or whether there was a recent string of email exchanges between you and them which might provide more cues as to their style etc. Maybe they're very formal.

No, this construct is not used that I know of to mean something like "no worries" yet it doesn't mean that they "wouldn't care" either. They seem intent on expressing whether something impedes them with what they have to do or whether it doesn't, the latter seemingly being the case here. A bit like "we have no issues with that".

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  • I have edited the OP to clarify. Apr 26 at 1:57
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"It's fine" or "Fine with us" is really rendered by "ça va", "c'est bon", or "ça nous convient", and also "voilà qui est parfait"; as such, "it's fine" can still be used to translate "ça ne nous dérange pas" ; however, this translation fails to insist on the fact that whatever prompted the use of "ça ne nous dérange pas" has been acknowledged as something that causes no disagreement and/or no problems. More to the point would be the reply "It doesn't bother us.".

B.− [Le compl. d'obj. désigne un animé]
2. P. ext.
c) [Le compl. d'obj. désigne un animé hum.] Troubler dans sa façon d'être, de penser.
♦ Pourquoi Dieu ne reste-t-il pas chez lui et vient-il nous déranger? Notre malheureuse vie est si courte! Qu'il nous y laisse du moins en paix! (Claudel, Violaine,1901, IV, p. 641):
♦ Le prêtre (...) qui est un homme instruit et naïf, ne revient pas de cette théorie. (...) Que l'infini tienne dans le fini, est une proposition qui le dérange. Il fait observer que le contenu ne peut être plus grand que le contenant... Veuillot, Les Odeurs de Paris,1866, p. 213.

That is by the way an alternate translation given by DeepL, which proposes as first translation the very pertinent "We don't mind.".

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  • I'm not quite sure what you're getting at. Apr 26 at 1:51
  • @GeoffPointer The point is that the translation of "cela ne nous dérange pas" as "fine with us" is not badly off, but that there is a component of meaning that is missing ; you can say "it's fine" but that is not specifically saying that there is nothing upsetting you, whereas in "ça ne nous dérange pas" you are precisely saying that there is nothing in what has been done or decided that can cause you to be upset; this is confirmed by DeepL: their choice is "We don't mind" as first possibility of translation and "it does not bother us" as second.
    – LPH
    Apr 26 at 6:14

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