trous de renards/pieds de parois

English translation: "During the Neolithic period, In these limestone regions...

10:48 May 9, 2003
French to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary
French term or phrase: trous de renards/pieds de parois
Dans ces régions de calcaire, les moindres anfractuosités (grottes, avens, 'trous de renards', pieds de parois) ont été utilisées comme sépulcres, au cours du Néolithique.
MSH
Local time: 08:22
English translation:"During the Neolithic period, In these limestone regions...
Explanation:
the most modest of geologic features were used as burial sites : [little] caves, small sinkholes, "foxholes", the little spaces under rocky overhangs."

I think that we need to exercise a bit of leeway with the text here, and go for the sense of it where the literal meaning might be ambiguous (or even simply wrong) in English.

"moindre" I think can be "modest" here, in the sense of not being of significant size. As in : "the least of these."

"anfractuosités" seems usually to refer to "sinuosities" of various kinds (eg., the form of the outer ear?), which doesn't really work in English. But he seems to be talking about "geologic features."

For "avens" I prefer "small sinkholes" to Bourth's "potholes", as the latter has the association (at least in Americanspeak) with those smallish holes in roadways which sprout up everywhere, like weeds, in the early spring after a hard winter. After all, these things have to be large enough --no matter how "modest"-- to serve as burial places.

"trous de renards" is a problem, since "foxholes" has a definite (again in the U.S.) military association, as well as being, if literally understood, too small for a burial. There's something to be said for using "rabbit warren" here, though those aren't usually geologic features, I believe. "Foxholes" in quotes might work, as a caution against the literal.

"pieds de parois" I take to mean the little "caves" which occur at the foot of smallish rock faces (parois), a quite common here in the Limestone Hills of Southern Indiana where I am at present.
There is probably/surely a technical geologic name for these features, but I've never heard it and suspect that it wouldn not be in the average reader's vocabulary, either.

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Note added at 2003-05-09 15:32:03 (GMT)
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Re \"trous de renards\" --the quotes in the original suggest that the author clearly meant to use the term as it\'s understood in the military sense: a hole just big enough for one (or two) men to lie in.
\"pied de parois\" features can, of course, be quite large, encompassing whole settlements : http://www.swcolo.org/tourism/archaeology/mesaverde.html ; http://www.visitmesaverde.com/
But it seems to me that the author here is intending much more modest (\"moindre\") structures.

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Note added at 2003-05-10 14:24:36 (GMT)
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Oddie\'s comment to Bourth, to the effect that \" people have never been buried in places where water was known to be running at times\" is a valid one and leads me to think about revising my \"small sinkholes\" since they are frequently the site of running water (again, at least in the karst topography of Southern Indiana). What the fellow might mean by \"avens\" would then be up in the air, once again perhaps demonstratilng that French is frequently not a language suited to precise terminology --or at least not without plenty of context surrounding any given passage (I\'m presuming that the author here has been discussing all these various types of burial sites in the context of an archaeological study).
Selected response from:

Christopher Crockett
Local time: 03:22
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +1"During the Neolithic period, In these limestone regions...
Christopher Crockett
4 +1potholes/foot of cliffs
Bourth (X)


  

Answers


13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
potholes/foot of cliffs


Explanation:
In civil engineering, at least, a renard is the hole made in soil by running water (often causing the failure of dams).
Renard Boiling; piping [BSI]; blowout [?Blake,35.18], sand boil

Here, it could be similar holes in rock (karsts), hence "potholes" in the caving sense.

Pied de paroi can only be what it says, the bottom (accessible part) of cliffs, banks, bluffs, etc.

Bourth (X)
Local time: 09:22
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 18679

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Florence Bremond: I don't think that "renard" can be used in this meaning here - because people have never been buried in places where water was known to be running at times.
21 hrs
  -> Cavers' potholes are dry (except at depth).
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
"During the Neolithic period, In these limestone regions...


Explanation:
the most modest of geologic features were used as burial sites : [little] caves, small sinkholes, "foxholes", the little spaces under rocky overhangs."

I think that we need to exercise a bit of leeway with the text here, and go for the sense of it where the literal meaning might be ambiguous (or even simply wrong) in English.

"moindre" I think can be "modest" here, in the sense of not being of significant size. As in : "the least of these."

"anfractuosités" seems usually to refer to "sinuosities" of various kinds (eg., the form of the outer ear?), which doesn't really work in English. But he seems to be talking about "geologic features."

For "avens" I prefer "small sinkholes" to Bourth's "potholes", as the latter has the association (at least in Americanspeak) with those smallish holes in roadways which sprout up everywhere, like weeds, in the early spring after a hard winter. After all, these things have to be large enough --no matter how "modest"-- to serve as burial places.

"trous de renards" is a problem, since "foxholes" has a definite (again in the U.S.) military association, as well as being, if literally understood, too small for a burial. There's something to be said for using "rabbit warren" here, though those aren't usually geologic features, I believe. "Foxholes" in quotes might work, as a caution against the literal.

"pieds de parois" I take to mean the little "caves" which occur at the foot of smallish rock faces (parois), a quite common here in the Limestone Hills of Southern Indiana where I am at present.
There is probably/surely a technical geologic name for these features, but I've never heard it and suspect that it wouldn not be in the average reader's vocabulary, either.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-05-09 15:32:03 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Re \"trous de renards\" --the quotes in the original suggest that the author clearly meant to use the term as it\'s understood in the military sense: a hole just big enough for one (or two) men to lie in.
\"pied de parois\" features can, of course, be quite large, encompassing whole settlements : http://www.swcolo.org/tourism/archaeology/mesaverde.html ; http://www.visitmesaverde.com/
But it seems to me that the author here is intending much more modest (\"moindre\") structures.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-05-10 14:24:36 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Oddie\'s comment to Bourth, to the effect that \" people have never been buried in places where water was known to be running at times\" is a valid one and leads me to think about revising my \"small sinkholes\" since they are frequently the site of running water (again, at least in the karst topography of Southern Indiana). What the fellow might mean by \"avens\" would then be up in the air, once again perhaps demonstratilng that French is frequently not a language suited to precise terminology --or at least not without plenty of context surrounding any given passage (I\'m presuming that the author here has been discussing all these various types of burial sites in the context of an archaeological study).

Christopher Crockett
Local time: 03:22
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 444

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Florence Bremond: In French at least the meaning of "un trou de renard" is a hole more or less similar to the ones foxes dig - and foxes were digging probably before soldiers ever thought of doing the same.
16 hrs
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