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à se rouler par terre en donnant des coups de pied à son cheval de bois

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00:57 Feb 21, 2012
French to English translations [PRO]
Social Sciences - Other / proverb
French term or phrase: à se rouler par terre en donnant des coups de pied à son cheval de bois
It is a question, in fact, of an adage: namely, « à se rouler par terre en donnant des coups de pied à son cheval de bois ». As such, I'm obviously interested in knowing what might work as an equivalent saying in English.

To situate the saying in its context, here is the relevant passage:
'On voit des gens qui considèrent que le combat historique de notre époque est de déterminer si les femmes doivent mettre ou non un foulard sur leurs cheveux, on voit des populations voter avec enthousiasme contre la construction de minarets dans les villes européennes ! C’est, comme on disait autrefois, « à se rouler par terre en donnant des coups de pied à son cheval de bois » ! Toutes ces questions de coutumes ou d’anti-coutumes sont entièrement codées par des choses qui n’ont rien à voir avec une Idée quelconque.'
(La philosophie et l’événement, entretien d’Alain Badiou avec Fabien Tarby, éd Germina (pages 40/43).

thanks, andyomène
Louise Tillos
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Summary of answers provided
3 +1flail around kicking and screaming
David Hollywood
4throw a temper tantrumAlison Sparks
4throw a wobbly and attack anything in sight
B D Finch
3"kicking the wrong horse" or "barking up the wrong tree"tmana
3merely thrusting at windmills
Catherine Gilsenan


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


53 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
flail around kicking and screaming


Explanation:
You can flail around as much as you want kicking and screaming, but he's on your back. He's solid, and he's going to remember to pull the chute at the right time ...


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Note added at 54 mins (2012-02-21 01:52:03 GMT)
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this might cover it ... but my ref is only to confirm that the expression exists ...

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Note added at 2 hrs (2012-02-21 03:04:58 GMT)
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the English expression


David Hollywood
Local time: 14:17
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 24

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Yolanda Broad
2 hrs

neutral  writeaway: ?? what reference?
7 hrs
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8 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
throw a wobbly and attack anything in sight


Explanation:
Sums up what I think he is getting at, i.e. acting out of general anger and attacking the wrong targets.

B D Finch
France
Local time: 19:17
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 49
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16 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
throw a temper tantrum


Explanation:
Basically the same as BDF, but less colloquial than "throw a wobbly". Have heard variations but not this one.

Alison Sparks
Local time: 19:17
Works in field
Native speaker of: English
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1 day14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
merely thrusting at windmills


Explanation:
Quixotic reference?

Catherine Gilsenan
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:17
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
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3 days10 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
"kicking the wrong horse" or "barking up the wrong tree"


Explanation:
The context suggests that the groups of people under discussion are complaining about something that has nothing to do with the basic ideas of [one presumes Islam]. These people are therefore attacking the wrong target.

tmana
Local time: 13:17
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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