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combattre vent debout

English translation: to fight head-on

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09:28 Nov 16, 2008
French to English translations [PRO]
Bus/Financial - Idioms / Maxims / Sayings
French term or phrase: combattre vent debout
Les élus de stations thermales sont immédiatement montés au créneau pour *combattre vent debout* cet amendement.
Shooting
Mauritius
Local time: 01:15
English translation:to fight head-on
Explanation:
[NFG]

Let me start by acknowledging that this has already been suggested by Lundy, and in peer comments by both CH and MC — I just felt it was important enough to deserve being entered as an answer.

I think the nautical metaphor is a waste of time and any attempt to reproduce it in EN doomed to sounding clunky and contrived.

However, unless the writer was actually a nautical person, I suspect that the expression may not have been meant to have all the force that we sailors would associate with it — as MC has suggested, its being an "uphill struggle". I think here this probably just means 'to enter a head-on conflict' or 'to confront the issue head-on', without any necessary implication of 'fighting a losing battle' etc.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2008-11-16 12:01:04 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

As an afterthought, I wonder about 'make a stand against' — that would at least convey a bit more of the nautical image, since a boat that is head to wind (or 'in irons') may be stanbding still but not getting anywhere...
Selected response from:

Tony M
France
Local time: 23:15
Grading comment
Thanks Tony
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
3 +2to fight head-on
Tony M
3 +2stand up fiercely againstDamien Lacroix
3 +2to fight this "head to wind"
lundy
4to fight a fierce battle against serious obstacles (though the chances to win are poor)Ellen Kraus
3fight an uphill battle
Martin Cassell
2fight against the wind
Frederique Taylor


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


16 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5
fight against the wind


Explanation:
Vent debout (Marine) Vent soufflant de face, en sens contraire de la marche

Frederique Taylor
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:15
Works in field
Native speaker of: French
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26 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
to fight this "head to wind"


Explanation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing_into_the_wind

This is apparently the expression in English for "vent debout" and you'll no doubt want to keep the sailing metaphor.
If not I would say to "fight this head on"

http://www.streem.com.au/national/7374-obama-vows-to-fight-c...

lundy
France
Local time: 23:15
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Charles Hawtrey: 'fight this head on' is the way to put it. Nautical jargon and station thermales do not have a great deal in common, usually.
21 mins
  -> Thanks - I agree, but don't you think that the ST would have said something else in that case? "prendre ce problème à bras le corps" or something like that? anyway, "fight this head on" sounds fine to me!

agree  Martin Cassell: As charles says. In any case, I suspect the infelicitous metaphor was almost accidental. If you're looking to replace one cliché with another, "fight xyz head on" would be very suitable.
1 hr
  -> Thanks - it would be interesting to know whether this station thermale is actually by the sea or not!
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36 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
stand up fiercely against


Explanation:
la métaphore nautique est-elle si importante dans ce qui semble être un texte journalistique?

Damien Lacroix
France
Local time: 23:15
Native speaker of: French

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Charles Hawtrey: Agreed with your comment about a nautical metaphor.
12 mins
  -> thanks

agree  Tony M: I agree about dropping the uncomfortable nautical metaphor. Maybe "make a stand against..." might work too?
1 hr
  -> I stand by you
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
to fight a fierce battle against serious obstacles (though the chances to win are poor)


Explanation:
headwind is a nautical term (steering against the wind is always a dangerous thing and needs much concentration and skill

Ellen Kraus
Austria
Local time: 23:15
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
fight an uphill battle


Explanation:
Given the mixed metaphors in the source, I don't feel too inhibited about suggesting a shift to an infantry metaphor here!

Of course, this suggestion would also sit just as oddly as the original with any literal translation of 'monter au créneau' ... :-)

How about something like: "... have taken up arms in (what is likely to be) an uphill battle against ..."

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2008-11-16 11:17:51 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Then again, we may be thinking far more closely about the use of language than the original author did -- see my discussion entry above.

Martin Cassell
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:15
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: Though I can't help wondering if it doesn't- simply mean 'head-on confrontation', without the specific connotation of it being a particularly difficult task. Can't help feeling the original author wasn't really thinking what they were saying, as you say
41 mins
  -> Just so -- and not for the first time, nor I'm sure the last time, in the history of journalism! I think lundy got there first in the afterthought stakes.
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
to fight head-on


Explanation:
[NFG]

Let me start by acknowledging that this has already been suggested by Lundy, and in peer comments by both CH and MC — I just felt it was important enough to deserve being entered as an answer.

I think the nautical metaphor is a waste of time and any attempt to reproduce it in EN doomed to sounding clunky and contrived.

However, unless the writer was actually a nautical person, I suspect that the expression may not have been meant to have all the force that we sailors would associate with it — as MC has suggested, its being an "uphill struggle". I think here this probably just means 'to enter a head-on conflict' or 'to confront the issue head-on', without any necessary implication of 'fighting a losing battle' etc.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2008-11-16 12:01:04 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

As an afterthought, I wonder about 'make a stand against' — that would at least convey a bit more of the nautical image, since a boat that is head to wind (or 'in irons') may be stanbding still but not getting anywhere...

Tony M
France
Local time: 23:15
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 36
Grading comment
Thanks Tony

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Damien Lacroix: agree that there is no implication of "fighting a losing battle", and only more context could determine if they are facing strong opposition. Yet the expression being not that usual, it retain a certain force (the supposed heroic stance of the officials)
1 hr
  -> Merci, Pyren !

agree  Catherine Gilsenan: This seems the only expression in English that will fit the context!
4 hrs
  -> Thanks, Catherine!
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