J'étais pas une lumière

English translation: I wasn't very bright//I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
French term or phrase:J'étais pas une lumière
English translation:I wasn't very bright//I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer

12:12 Apr 30, 2015
    The asker opted for community grading. The question was closed on 2015-05-03 13:54:08 based on peer agreement (or, if there were too few peer comments, asker preference.)


French to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters / témoignage
French term or phrase: J'étais pas une lumière
Je suis sortie du cursus scolaire à 16 ans. J'étais pas une lumière, en fait. Je faisais mes devoirs tant bien que mal mais j'avais pas des notes faramineuses

Le contexte: témoignage d'une jeune femme dans un documentaire.
Comment traduire "J'étais pas une lumière" ?

Merci beaucoup!
Sarah Blard
France
Local time: 05:39
I wasn't very bright//I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer
Explanation:
to keep to a similar metaphor or not as you prefer

I wasn't the one who discovered sliced bread

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Note added at 14 mins (2015-04-30 12:26:46 GMT)
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I wasn't a star pupil.
Selected response from:

polyglot45
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +8I wasn't very bright//I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer
polyglot45
4 +5I didn't exactly shine
B D Finch
4 +5I wasn't all that bright.
Barbara Cochran, MFA
5 +1I wasn't that bright.
Colin White
3I was not bright
JohnC87


Discussion entries: 3





  

Answers


13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
I was not bright


Explanation:
This seems like she worked hard in school but just wasn't an academic. To keep the feeling of the source text then I would use the term "bright" as a synonym for intelligent. It retains both meaning and style.

JohnC87
Ireland
Local time: 04:39
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in IrishIrish
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13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +8
I wasn't very bright//I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer


Explanation:
to keep to a similar metaphor or not as you prefer

I wasn't the one who discovered sliced bread

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 14 mins (2015-04-30 12:26:46 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I wasn't a star pupil.

polyglot45
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 227
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Philippa Smith
9 mins

agree  Chakib Roula
16 mins

agree  writeaway: or I wasn't outstanding, I was nothing special, I didn't stand out, or as you say I wasn't a star pupil. Someone who isn't bright doesn't usually suddenly get smart...... I'd avoid the not bright aspect altogether.
41 mins

agree  Florentina Constantin
49 mins

agree  Carol Gullidge: yes, there are loads of ways of expressing this
57 mins

agree  Jean-Claude Gouin: En bon français, on dit 'Je n'étais pas une lumière.' J'aime votre expression 'I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.'
1 hr

agree  Rachel Fell: I wasn't exactly a star pupil.
1 hr

neutral  Charlie Bavington (X): I'd avoid the knife/drawer version because that risks being interpreted as actually meaning really quite stupid (in the UK at least - British understatement and all that)
2 hrs

agree  Susan Monnereau
18 hrs
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16 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
I wasn't that bright.


Explanation:
Literally it means "I wasn't a light", but I think "I wasn't that bright" sounds a bit more natural.

Colin White
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:39
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: English

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  writeaway: literal but implies the person is stupid. someone who isn't bright, isn't bright. there's no cure for stupid afaik.
41 mins
  -> Not sure why there's a problem with a 'stupid' implication, even though it wasn't intentional on my part. Where is "cure" mentioned in the original? Plus it's self-deprecating so she can call herself stupid if she wants...

agree  Carol Gullidge: or I wasn't especially bright. Loads of ways of expressing this...
1 hr
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22 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
I wasn't all that bright.


Explanation:
A variation on the other suggestions, but I think my suggestion it would perhaps reflect the tone of the piece somewhat better.

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Note added at 28 mins (2015-04-30 12:40:24 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"I wasn't really all that bright."

Barbara Cochran, MFA
United States
Local time: 23:39
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 12

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Verginia Ophof
18 mins
  -> Thanks, Virginia.

neutral  writeaway: I don't see how that adds anything at all or fits better. In fact I'd avoid using 'not bright' in any case.
33 mins
  -> Of course it does, it adds quite a bit. Like Estelle says, "real colloquialism ... "makes a difference".

agree  Florentina Constantin
40 mins
  -> Thanks, Florentina.

agree  Colin White: Yep, that "all" makes ALL the difference! Agree that this improves on my answer above.
44 mins
  -> Thanks, Colin.

neutral  Carol Gullidge: this is just one of many close synonyms of the other suggestions, and as such could simply have been posted as an Agree with suggested modifications//because the others were probably all posted simultaneously so they wouldn't have known
47 mins
  -> Why didn't you say that about the others, which are much more similar, one to the other, than mine obviously is?/Synonyms, by definition, are not "close". Words or phrases that are "synonymous" have the same, exact meaning, in relation to each other.

agree  Estelle Demontrond-Box: Yes agree with all. Real colloquialism which makes a difference.
48 mins
  -> Thanks so much, Estelle!

agree  Ghyslaine LE NAGARD
2 hrs
  -> Merci beaucoup, Ghyslaine.
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
I didn't exactly shine


Explanation:
I agree with writeaway's comments that one should avoid translating this by saying she wasn't "bright". The speaker isn't saying that she was unintelligent, just that she didn't perform outstandingly well at school. Perhaps she has since gone on to demonstrate that she really is "bright" in other situations.

http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/lumière/48043#...
"Littéraire. Personne d'une grande intelligence, d'un savoir éclatant : Une lumière du barreau."

http://www.linternaute.com/expression/langue-francaise/5965/...
"Expression datant du XVIIe siècle, qui adopte un sens métaphorique lié au terme "lumière". Ici, on fait allusion dans le sens de briller, qui va désigner le fait de montrer ses capacités, faire preuve de son intelligence. Cette expression sert donc à désigner une personne qui n'est pas un génie, dénuée d'un certain niveau d'intelligence."

In the reference above, I think that the last sentence: "Cette expression sert donc à désigner une personne qui n'est pas un génie, dénuée d'un certain niveau d'intelligence", could be misleading. It all depends upon how the expression is being used (the tone of voice matters here) as to whether it means a) that the person concerned fails to shine or b) that they are actually rather stupid. In this case, though we have limited context, I think it's the former.

B D Finch
France
Local time: 05:39
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 136

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Carol Gullidge: yep, after a slow start, she could have gone on to have a dazzling career in academia (or whatever)
7 mins
  -> Thanks Carol.// Though it appears from the extra context that she didn't, you never know: she might do so later.

agree  chaplin
14 mins
  -> Thanks Ségolène

agree  Jennifer White: I also think it is preferable to avoid "bright"
1 hr
  -> Thanks Jennifer

agree  Simon Mac: Yes, I agree about avoiding "bright" - and this does it nicely
1 hr
  -> Thanks Simon

agree  Michele Fauble: I prefer this, as it doesn't imply stupid the way "not bright" often does.
3 hrs
  -> Thanks Michele
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