From: Philippe Verdy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat Mar 21 2009 - 21:00:00 CST
In fact, if I read the definition of the term "quite" in English, it has TWO
meanings, one of which is strenghtening the meaning (something I was not
aware despite it is apparently the most common sense unerstood by some of
you here), the other is the complete opposite (and really to want I wanted
to say) and is not so much uncommon.
In addition, these two meanings are altered in different direction when
"quite" is used with "NOT" (i.e. "not quite"): you cannot translate the term
the same way, but the most common examples found with "quite" in English is
in combination with "not" where it effectively means the same as what I
So lots of confusion is possible, this is worse in English because such term
not only does not translate the original, but also it varies according in
context but also to the one used. The definition and notes in English
Wiktionary is interesting to look at. There's not so many confusions about
the intended meaning of adverbs in French which allows lot of precise
graduation in the effective value of terms. In English apparently,
graduation always causes problems, and you have to use affirmative
assertions, because even the simple negation is confusive !
So my assumption was not so bad, as it was effectively one of the allowed
meaning (if I can trust those that made the definition and added the
examples in English Wiktionary).
To make sure I just tried to look at other English dictionaries and I've not
been able to conclude about which meaning (emphasing or reducing) is
effectively the most common. All this confusion seems to come from the fact
that the term has been most often used in expressions using the negation !
So the same term appears now to be used to mean one thing as well as its
So may be I was not prepared for this dual meaning and assumed the reverse
from you, but I can say that those that have replied to explain the
difference to me are probably not prepared as well for this alternate dual
meaning. As a consequence, the cultural mis-adaptation does not only concern
the "translators" but even the native speakers of the same language between
Now I can understnd why there's a standard RFC (referenced normatively in
many other RFCs or other standards written in English) that absolutely needs
to explain and define in English the intended meaning of common English
terms like "CAN, SHOULD, MAY, MUST..." Such RFC, to be used in technical
contexts, would probably have not even been needed in French where all this
is really obvious and unambiguous.
Alain LaBonté wrote:
> The message below is a very good example of cultural mis-adaptation.
> It's like me using the word "eventually" for years having the French
meaning of "éventuellement" in my head. Almost the opposite meaning. In fact
"quite" the opposite in most contexts.
> "Eventually" just means "ultimately" in English (« ultimemement" if you
want to translate into French). « Éventuellement » (false friend), means
"possibly". Of course "eventually" comes gfrom French "éventuellement".
> How does words shift sense so much ? Over hundreds of centuries, that
happens. Between historically linked languages (just as the Chinese
character for "paper" meaning "toilet paper" in Japanese (as a case in
point, many French also say a "shit of paper", overdoing in English the
short "i", inexistent in standard French, to mean a "sheet of paper")
> Interesting to consult: « Dictionnaire des -- Dictionary of -- faux amis
-- français - anglais -- English-French » : 794 pages, so non neglectable
> Translators beware: you can be responsible for wars just because of such
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