Ou

English translation: [can sometimes be translated as] and

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
French term or phrase:ou
English translation:[can sometimes be translated as] and
Entered by: Tony M

22:07 Jul 9, 2012
French to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature
French term or phrase: Ou
I am currently translating a book about the history of music. It is French to English.

The author uses 'ou' a lot, where I would expect to see 'et'.

For example: Ensemble, ils composent, arrangent, réorchestrent ou adaptent à leur
guise
I appreciate that 'or' can be used in this sentence, but there are plenty of lists of names:
for example: A, B, C ou D

Is this a stylistic choice by the author, and can 'ou' be used as 'and'?

Very many thanks.
flossy75 (X)
Local time: 04:16
and
Explanation:
Yes, this is a very common construction in FR, and in most cases, I usually render it by 'and' in EN.

There is a logic in the FR use of 'or', since whatever the list relates to, not everyone may do everything on it, hence 'or' is more logical; in EN, the logic is to represent the inclusiveness of the set of possibilities using 'and', so as not to suggest they are potentialy mutually excluisive.

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Note added at 4 mins (2012-07-09 22:11:58 GMT)
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I wouldn't personally call it a "stylistic choice by the author", since it is a very widespread general construction.

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Note added at 6 mins (2012-07-09 22:13:30 GMT)
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"On the dessert menu, we have apple pie, chocolate mousse, and strawberry tart" — there is no implication that you are going to get ALL of those!
Selected response from:

Tony M
France
Local time: 05:16
Grading comment
Many thanks for your comprehensive response
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +10and
Tony M
4and / or
Gurudutt Kamath
4or
Debora Blake


  

Answers


3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +10
ou
and


Explanation:
Yes, this is a very common construction in FR, and in most cases, I usually render it by 'and' in EN.

There is a logic in the FR use of 'or', since whatever the list relates to, not everyone may do everything on it, hence 'or' is more logical; in EN, the logic is to represent the inclusiveness of the set of possibilities using 'and', so as not to suggest they are potentialy mutually excluisive.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 mins (2012-07-09 22:11:58 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I wouldn't personally call it a "stylistic choice by the author", since it is a very widespread general construction.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 6 mins (2012-07-09 22:13:30 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"On the dessert menu, we have apple pie, chocolate mousse, and strawberry tart" — there is no implication that you are going to get ALL of those!

Tony M
France
Local time: 05:16
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 128
Grading comment
Many thanks for your comprehensive response

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Timothy Rake
4 mins
  -> Thanks, Timothy!

agree  Dr Lofthouse
26 mins
  -> Thanks, Doc!

agree  Kévin Bernier
27 mins
  -> Merci, Kévin !

agree  Nikki Scott-Despaigne
57 mins
  -> Thanks, Nikki!

agree  cc in nyc
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, CC!

agree  Gilla Evans
7 hrs
  -> Thanks, Gilla!

agree  JMcKechnie
9 hrs
  -> Thanks, J!

agree  Colin Rowe
9 hrs
  -> Thanks, Colin!

agree  marie-christine périé
10 hrs
  -> Merci, M-C !

agree  Kelly Harrison: go one then one more for double-figures!
20 hrs
  -> Thanks, Kelly! :-)
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12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
or


Explanation:
While I agree with Tony's explanation, I'd like you to consider mine:

This is not just about "ou". You must also consider "à leur guise" which is essentially "as they see fit". So, in this particular example, I do see "or" as more appropriate because they choose from a set of options depending on the project. Putting "and" in this sentence doesn't make sense to be.

As for the "A, B, C ou D" example, I would need more context before I could comment.

Debora Blake
France
Local time: 05:16
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: I don't think this is describing a 'choosing' situation, but 'à leur guise' may suggest that what they do may come under any (or indeed several) of the categories listed.
18 mins
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1 day 4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
and / or


Explanation:
I do not think you can do a search and replace and say it is either and or or. You will have to choose one of them precisely based on context. In your example sentence, and seems appropriate -- but depending on context, it could be or. In the dessert example given -- generally and should work. But what if the diner had the choice of only 1 dessert from the three, then it would be or.

Gurudutt Kamath
India
Local time: 09:46
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in HindiHindi
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