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berger veuille cacher au mouton les ciseaux qui vont le tondre

English translation: the scissors with which he will shear the lamb

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05:38 Jun 5, 2001
French to English translations [PRO]
French term or phrase: berger veuille cacher au mouton les ciseaux qui vont le tondre
"Mais on comprend que le berger veuille cacher au mouton les ciseaux qui vont le tondre. Les droits de douane, la TVA, les taxes et droits divers, sont bien plus faciles à prélever parce qu’ils semblent indolores."
I'm not sure if this is an idiomatic expression that requires an equivalent in English, or if it can be translated literally. It's referring to people hiding property to avoid taxes. Thanks, Karen
Karen Tucker
English translation:the scissors with which he will shear the lamb
Explanation:
the berger is not going to kill the mouton, but rather shear it...
and I think it refers not so much to people hiding property but rather to the government hiding the means by which it will shear tax payers. Shearing a lamb is painless to the lamb if done right and with care, as it is relatively painless (or less painful) for the tax payer to pay TVA, droits de douane etc.

cheers

paola l m
Selected response from:

CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 04:16
Grading comment
Based on a closer reading of the text, you're right about the meaning - it's the tax collector (the shepherd) trying to hide the painful instrument he's using to fleece the taxpayer. Thanks very much for making me aware of that interpretation. Karen
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
nathe shepherd (tax collector) wants to hide from the sheep (taxpayer) the scissors with which he ...
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
nahide the shears from the lamb
Jeff Skinner
naparaphrase the metaphor
Tony M
nathe scissors with which he will shear the lamb
CLS Lexi-tech
naIt is understandable that the shepherd doesn't want to show the lamb the scissors that will kill it.Daphne b


  

Answers


20 mins
It is understandable that the shepherd doesn't want to show the lamb the scissors that will kill it.


Explanation:
You can translate it literally or (as I did) turn the phrase around. It is a metaphor rather than an idiom.

Daphne b
Sweden
Local time: 10:16
Native speaker of: Native in GreekGreek
PRO pts in pair: 85

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff: misunderstood, completely
1 hr
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29 mins
the scissors with which he will shear the lamb


Explanation:
the berger is not going to kill the mouton, but rather shear it...
and I think it refers not so much to people hiding property but rather to the government hiding the means by which it will shear tax payers. Shearing a lamb is painless to the lamb if done right and with care, as it is relatively painless (or less painful) for the tax payer to pay TVA, droits de douane etc.

cheers

paola l m


CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 04:16
Native speaker of: Native in ItalianItalian
PRO pts in pair: 162
Grading comment
Based on a closer reading of the text, you're right about the meaning - it's the tax collector (the shepherd) trying to hide the painful instrument he's using to fleece the taxpayer. Thanks very much for making me aware of that interpretation. Karen

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Albert Golub
24 mins

Heathcliff
1 hr
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1 hr
paraphrase the metaphor


Explanation:
I agree with ludovici that it is of course 'shear' and not 'kill'

But I don't agree about the way round it applies; I think the sense is that 'people will naturally try to conceal that which would give the tax man something to 'fleece' them for' --- the metaphor is a bit mixed, and I'm sure you should be able to invent something slighly less convoluted in English

Best of luck!

Tony M
France
Local time: 10:16
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 14160

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

Heathcliff: another misreading
1 day 7 hrs
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3 hrs
hide the shears from the lamb


Explanation:
Would this be an acceptable shortening of the phrase? I don't think too many people would be so unaware of how wool is made that the meaning would be entirely lost on them.

Jeff Skinner
Sweden
Local time: 10:16
Native speaker of: English

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
1 day 5 hrs
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4 hrs
the shepherd (tax collector) wants to hide from the sheep (taxpayer) the scissors with which he ...


Explanation:
Mais on comprend que le berger veuille cacher au mouton les ciseaux qui vont le tondre.

Yes. "Cacher qqchs à qlqn" means to hide something from someone (the person here being the sheep!)

You can understand why the shepherd (tax collector) wants to hide from the sheep (taxpayer) the scissors with which he is going to shear him (taxes he is going levy).

From that paradise where tax collectors are blessed with sensitivy.

Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Local time: 10:16
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4431

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
1 day 4 hrs
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