Famous French Quotes and Their American Equivalents
Relations between France and the United States have often been strained, with one side often criticizing the other for some perceived cultural deficit. In recent history, some popular elements in the United States have come to label France as a nation of weaklings as a result of France not supporting the US-led invasion of Iraq. France, in turn, accused the US of being aggressive and arrogant. However, a quick read of some of the most famous French quotes will show that France and the US actually have a lot of similarities in thinking and looking at things the same way. Here’s a sample: You be the judge.
Renard (French) is quoted:
“The truth is worth spending a few years without discovering.”
This translates into English as “Truth is more valuable if it takes you a few years to find it.” Although we don’t have the exact equivalent in English, we do have the idea that if something becomes too easy, it’s easy to take it for granted.
As a mirror of what is considered the “Protestant work ethic,” consider this quote from the great French writer and philosopher Voltaire: “Work removes from us three great evils: boredom, vice, and want.”
In English: “Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and want.” Don’t we in the United States hold similar values regarding work?
And in this quote from Banville we see what we think is the very American idea that it’s good to take risks because “nothing dares, nothing wins.”
In French “Et ceux qui ne font rien ne se trompent jamais”. The English translation is “Those who never do anything can never do any wrong.”
This quote is a good indication that the French probably place similar values on getting out of your comfort zone and just going for it, whether or not you’re sure of the outcome and even if you’re afraid to do it. Doesn’t sound so stupid to me!
Finally, in a departure from our illustrious American who “… marches to the beat of a different drummer,” Roland is quoted as saying “Le monde appelle fous ceux qui ne sont pas fous de la folie commune.” This translates to “Mad are labeled those who do not participate in the general madness.” If that’s not a call for people to follow their hearts and do what’s right, something Americans value very highly, I don’t know what is.
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