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passage obligé

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20:32 Sep 3, 2006
French to English translations [PRO]
General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters
French term or phrase: passage obligé
I gather this phrase has been used in English on occasion, but whether it's common enough for me to use it, I don't know. I've been mulling over what to do with it for a while now and can't come up with anything I like, even though I have a definition in French. And my eyes badly need a break from this screen...

It's in a journalistic piece about Algeria and what the inhabitants of Algiers do at night. It seems they abandon the big city and head for the coast... the journalist takes us on a journey by night from the deserted capital to the sea, and 1km from the coast we come to a small village studded with ice-cream parlours and restaurants filled with families...

"Notre virée s'arrête à Staoueli, un petit village à 20km d'Alger, qui s'est transformé en un lieu de privilégié pour les familles...

L'avantage de Staoueli réside dans le fait qu'elle se situe à un kilomètre de la plage et des stations balnéaires de XXX (several names of resorts). C'est un *passage obligé*, un point d'arrêt très prisé par les familles."

Then we hit the coast, so that's about it for useful context. I think the meaning may be that if you want to get to the coast, you just *have* to pass through Staoueli (though not necessarily stop there) as there's no other route, but the best I've come up with so far is "necessary stage on the journey...", which sounds rather long-winded. Anything with "compulsory/obligatory" makes it sound almost like a prison; I thought of "must-XXX" but can't come up with a suitable XXX. I'm not sure about "must-stop" as I think that really means "very desirable/essential place to go to/stop in" rather than a place you literally can't avoid passing through - or maybe that's exactly the meaning? But then I was thinking of "stopping point" for "point d'arrêt" and want to avoid the repetition if I can.

The definition I've got from a monolingual dictionary is: "condition, action nécessaire pour la réalisation d'un projet". Any suggestions?
Peter Shortall
Local time: 00:23
English translation:comment
Explanation:
There seems to be a lot of repetition in your quote. My own thinking on the translation was along the lines of Suezen, but as S. also points out, that idea is conveyed already (lieu de privilégié pour les familles ... un point d'arrêt très prisé par les familles).

So my proposal would be to drop it (unless it is on the ONLY road to the beaches mentioned), considering it to be not only redundant but, as you comment about the expression being used in English hints, not having a "natural" equivalent in few words in English. IOW, in French the term "passage obligé" is insufficiently clear even in French to do without the explanation "un point d'arrêt très prisé". Why translate what is not clear when a perfectly natural and translatable equivalent follows?

A bit like trying to translate "hale and hearty" or "fit and well" as two words in each case.
Selected response from:

xxxBourth
Local time: 01:23
Grading comment
Thanks very much indeed to everyone for your help. I really did like "absolute must", but on further reflection, I also agreed with Bourth that the text is quite repetitive here (and in other places too, in fact) so in the end I did actually leave it out. Thanks again!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
3 +6an absolute must/ a favourite stopover/ a firm favourite
suezen
3 +4commentxxxBourth
4 +2must see
Michael Barnett
5Don't pass up your chance to come here.MatthewLaSon
5it is a prerequisite / it is inevitable
gabuss
5essential stop off
Nina Iordache
3You simply/just must visit...
Rachel Fell
3It's unavoidableCharlie Bavington
2must-visitSara Noss


  

Answers


16 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +6
an absolute must/ a favourite stopover/ a firm favourite


Explanation:
a family favourite,
the last suggestions are cheating a bit because they combine the next part of the phrase!

suezen
Local time: 01:23
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 63

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Robin Levey: Yes - it's not 'just because it's on the main road to the coast'. In fact, it might be some way off the main road and require a 'détour' (but not a day-tour...) to get there.
7 mins
  -> thanks!

agree  Barbara Cochran, MFA: "An absolute must" is the only of your choices that seems to convey the meaning.
6 hrs
  -> thanks femme

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
7 hrs
  -> thanks Marju

agree  RHELLER: I like "absolute must" :-)
9 hrs
  -> thanks Rita :-)

agree  Ingeborg Gowans: an "absolute must" came to mind right away,too
19 hrs
  -> thanks Ingeborg

agree  Paul Hirsh: i like the favorite stopover best
22 hrs
  -> thanks Monxmood :-)
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17 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5
must-visit


Explanation:
Sticking with your idea of "must-xxx".

I hope this gets the creative juices flowing!

Sara


    Reference: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2002/04/1495
    Reference: http://www.themobilefoodguide.com/browse/pages/top_tipples.p...
Sara Noss
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:23
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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23 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
must see


Explanation:
http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?s=must see&gwp=13
must-see (mŭst'sē')
n. Informal.

Something that should or must be seen: a movie that's a must-see.

Michael Barnett
Local time: 19:23
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Simon Brown: This would be my choice
25 mins
  -> Thanks Simon!

agree  emiledgar
2 hrs
  -> Thanks emiledgar.
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +4
comment


Explanation:
There seems to be a lot of repetition in your quote. My own thinking on the translation was along the lines of Suezen, but as S. also points out, that idea is conveyed already (lieu de privilégié pour les familles ... un point d'arrêt très prisé par les familles).

So my proposal would be to drop it (unless it is on the ONLY road to the beaches mentioned), considering it to be not only redundant but, as you comment about the expression being used in English hints, not having a "natural" equivalent in few words in English. IOW, in French the term "passage obligé" is insufficiently clear even in French to do without the explanation "un point d'arrêt très prisé". Why translate what is not clear when a perfectly natural and translatable equivalent follows?

A bit like trying to translate "hale and hearty" or "fit and well" as two words in each case.

xxxBourth
Local time: 01:23
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 204
Grading comment
Thanks very much indeed to everyone for your help. I really did like "absolute must", but on further reflection, I also agreed with Bourth that the text is quite repetitive here (and in other places too, in fact) so in the end I did actually leave it out. Thanks again!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Rachel Fell: let's do away with flabby prose;-)
1 hr

agree  Mark Nathan: cut the repetition
2 hrs

agree  xxxsarahl
3 hrs

agree  Paul Hirsh: absolutely
21 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
essential stop off


Explanation:
Hi! Maybe you can choose to add or skip essential or play with it and find another word that you may like better. Then you can also add the other words which represent a synonym and you can choose from the other things you had in mind or suggested by our colleagues... Good luck!


    Reference: http://www.inventerm.com/Resultat.aspx
Nina Iordache
Romania
Local time: 02:23
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in RomanianRomanian
PRO pts in category: 8
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
It's unavoidable


Explanation:
Inspired by your own "can't avoid passing through", frankly. Why bother thinking up a noun - you've said what it is - use it :-)

I'm thinking along the lines of "It's unavoidable, and a favourite stopping-off point for families" or something like that (where the Fr comma plays the role of "and" as it so often does).

Might be worth checking an online map to see if it really IS unavoidable, though :-)

Charlie Bavington
Local time: 00:23
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
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48 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
You simply/just must visit...


Explanation:
another suggestion, others OK too

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2006-09-03 23:17:04 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

have realsied I didn't read to the end of your question/comments, so was thinking maybe "inevitable", though that may sound too negative

Rachel Fell
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:23
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 16
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10 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
it is a prerequisite / it is inevitable


Explanation:
Oxford-Hachette Dictionary refers

gabuss
Local time: 23:23
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 4
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1 day7 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
Don't pass up your chance to come here.


Explanation:
Hello,

This is my rendition.

This is what is meant by "passage oblige" and the phrase that follows it (The French unnecessarily repeats itself).

It means that you don't want to skip out on visiting this village.

I prefer to use the imperative in English.

I hope this helps.

MatthewLaSon
Local time: 19:23
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 145
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