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French for "coping" (v.)

(12 Posts)
LurkingHusband Tue 23-Jun-15 16:28:22

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33238996

The characters in Ian McEwan's novel Atonement are called upon to cope with all sorts of tricky situations.
But when French teenagers sitting an exam about the book were asked to cope with a tough question, they fell short on one key element - the word "coping".
Now almost 12,000 students have signed a petition saying the question was "impossible" to answer because they didn't know the word.

(contd)

MrsHathaway Tue 23-Jun-15 16:32:23

DH and I were hmm about this earlier.

It's a shitter when you can't even start looking at a question because one crucial word is unknown to you. I would hope that a well-taught linguist would parse the word into cope+ing and that that would help a handful.

However, I don't really believe that cope is a "very obscure" word for someone with sufficient grasp of English to read Atonement.

Preminstreltension Tue 23-Jun-15 16:46:41

I think that's quite hard. In French you say it more metaphorically (s'en sortir perhaps) so you can work out what it means but in English you either know the word or you don't. Quite hard I think.

Polyethyl Tue 23-Jun-15 16:51:56

I'm baffled that "cope" is considered an obscure word. Seems a very standard word to me.

Bonsoir Tue 23-Jun-15 16:55:20

MrsHathaway - while I agree that "cope" ought to be within the lexicon of a French 18 year old taking the Bac (it certainly caused DSS2 no issues at all), I should point out that these French teens have not read Atonement. They were merely presented with a very short extract (20 lines?) in the exam.

Bonsoir Tue 23-Jun-15 16:57:36

There is no neat synonym for "cope" in French. The usual translation would be "gérer", which is less precise.

Preminstreltension Tue 23-Jun-15 16:59:53

I think that's why it is quite hard. I struggled to think how to say it in French and I wouldn't have know when I was doing A level French which I guess is where these kids are, roughly.

GirlInTheDirtyShirt Tue 23-Jun-15 17:01:19

Would it not be faire face in this context anyway: The students of the baccalaureate English exam were asked how Robbie Turner - who is falsely accused of rape - is "coping with the situation

I have to admit to being surprised that an 18 year old in an international school wouldn't have come across the word, or that they couldn't extrapolate from the context what it might possibly mean. Apparently the petition itself was littered with mistakes ^in French^which might indicate a possible literacy problem on the part of the person who made the petition in the first place, and then a load of bandwagon jumping...

Bonsoir Tue 23-Jun-15 17:03:19

The extract has nothing to do with the rape scene - that was an error made by The Guardian.

Bonsoir Tue 23-Jun-15 17:05:51

And it wasn't in an international school - this was the English as First MFL French Bac exam. Most of these DC will never have heard English outside their 2h per week with a non-native speaker teacher.

MrsHathaway Tue 23-Jun-15 17:40:14

Thanks Bonsoir.

SmillasSenseOfSnow Mon 10-Aug-15 07:53:07

This thread has got a bit old now but I've only just noticed it. I just thought I'd add that 'to cope' is indeed a very odd word for a lot of non-native speakers. Just because we are so used to it and it seems a 'normal' word to us, doesn't make it a simple concept. I'm studying a degree taught in another language and the concept of 'coping' had to be covered in a psychology/sociology module. The actual word 'cope' is made into a verb in the language, so inadequate is any translation using what you might think of as similar words/concepts. E.g. if it were German (it's not) then you'd end up with 'copieren' or something, if that shows you what they've done in order to deal with the problem.

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