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every bit of concept matters # 002

November 3, 2010
There is a very interesting impossibility to convey the whole meaning of Tu me plais when going from French to English. Tu me plais is obviously directly translatable, this is not one of those cases where you have to use a periphrasis to attain your goal. Tu me plais is the best equivalent, in my opinion, of I like you. Except that the subject is not the same. In French, as well as in Spanish or in Italian, you are the one having an effect on me. In English, I am the one who is building up emotions towards you. I might look like I am quibbling again (as if I was a quibbler really…), but this is not insignificant. I could say You appeal me, you’ll tell me, but really, a phrase that occurs only 1060 times on the internet according to Google© does not seem that plausible.
Another problem is the lack of flexibility of I like you. I like you is pretty much an understatement for I love you, or at least a prelude to it, a way of saying I could love you. Tu me plais can obviously be used in the same way. But it also can be a chat-up line or an end-of-night line, that every French girl (we don’t like having to chat-up: we’re the paradox of Feminism, mating traditionally but sharing chores in a progressive way, at least trying/pretending) will understand as Let’s go home and fuck — unless lacking of pragmatics abilities, but well, everybody knows only boys lack of those…
On the other hand I like you is fairer, reflecting that those feelings are emerging from a co-construction. But really, how I like to use Tu me plais is more on the end-of-night mode…
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