French translation

Could someone please help me with a French to English translation?

The passage is a note in the score of the ballet Daphnis et Chloe which describes the scene. I have highlighted words I have questions about.

Now here’s how AltaVista translated it:

Not much of a translation, but it’s free and I get the gist of it, which is all I need.

But I still don’t understand a few of the words.

fond: can this be better translated as “background”?

rec and plan: AltaVista doesn’t translate these words, and I can’t come up with a guess that makes sense. What do these words mean in this context?

Thanks in advance for your help.

IANAF (I am not a francophone), but I’ve looked in Larousse and Cassells.

“Fond” usually means “bottom” “ground” or similar things; metaphorically, the basic point “au fond, I believe that…” So I would think AltaVista translated it reasonably well, especially since “plan” can be translated as a “plane,” in the geometric sense. Taken together, you have hills at the bottom, with a level surface higher up, where ewes feed.

“Rec” I can’t help you with - it’s not in either of my dictionaries. Perhaps it’s a regional dialect term?

You’re correct on “fond” it would translate as the background, or possibly the horizon. Basically the furthest object in a drawing.

Rec however is a tough one. I have no idea, and I’m French.

Plan would be translated as plane. On the secondary plane.

I agree with what people said so far. I would translate “au found” by “in the distance”. “Au second plan” sounds like “in the foreground” to me. I think “rec” is a typo for “roc” (rock) - as in, the three nymphs are carved right into the roc itself.

Just to corroborate what’s been said:

  1. Au fond means ‘in the background’

  2. A droite, une grotte, à l’entrée de laquelle, taillées à même le rec, sont figurèes trois Nymphes means ‘On the right side, a cave at the entrance of which three nymphs are sculpted in rock’

  3. d’une sculpture archaique could simply mean ‘sculpted a long time ago’

  4. Un peu vers le fond, à gauche, un grand rocher affecte vaguement la forme du dieu Pân. Au second plan, des brebis paissent.: Methinks we’re having some kind of spatial problem here – ‘un peu vers le fond’ would seem, to me at least, to be further in distance than ‘Au second plan’ which means ‘in the middle distance’, whereas ‘un peu vers le fond’ would be closer to the actual background (not sure I’m explaining this properly)

And yes, French IS a difficult language!

A meadow at the edge of a sacred wood. At the farther end, the hills. To the right, a cave, at the entrance of which, carved in the rock itself (as other posters have said, that should be “roc”, not “rec”), are depicted three nymphes, sculpted in an archaic style. A little towards the back, to the left, a large rock assumes vaguely the shape of the god Pan. In the background, some ewes graze. A clear spring afternoon. (that should be “Un après-midi clair”, not “une après-midi claire”). At the opening of the curtain, the stage is empty.

And yes, what people have said is correct.
“Au fond” would be the very back of the stage. “Au second plan” would be in the background but closer to the audience.

Regarding “apres-midi” - it’s one of those strange words in French that can assume either gender, so “une apres-midi” is fine. It’s like “un jour” vs “une journee” - if you’re thinking of the expanse of time of one afternoon, then the feminine version is used. If you’re just using it in the weak sense, then it’s “un apres-midi”. Definitely a nuance :wink:

DarrenS, I was about to say “you’re full of it”, but luckily for me I went to check my dictionary and it said “après-midi, n.m. ou f.”. But in all my years of reading/writing french, I have never seen it used in the feminine (or I should say I don’t remember ever seeing it used in the feminine.) And that’s the kind of thing you would notice! Seeing a masculine word all of sudden used as a feminine would be like seeing your father in drag. You wouldn’t forget it. The feminine version must be obsolete.

The masculine form is indeed much more prevalent. Not sure the distinction noted by DS is followed in common usage.

I remember learning this at school (another of those obscure French grammar things, like the Imperfect Subjunctive that makes you sound like Moliere if you use it in France, to the amusement of the locals) - and even heard it a couple of times during my 4 years living in France.

A search on Google turns up 4,280 hits on “une après-midi” vs 9,420 hits for “un après-midi” - it’s not that uncommon. (A few of the "une"s are undoubtedly typos)

Now…if only I could remember when it’s “une manche” vs “un manche”…

I just remembered one occasion where I heard this in France!

One of my French colleagues was bemoaning having spent the whole afternoon the day before on some bureaucratic task (at the Mairie probably, or La Prefecture):

(sarcastically) “J’ai passe une belle apres-midi a attendre ces <censored>”

When AltaVista didn’t translate “rec”, I figured it was my typo and re-checked it. The original definitely had “rec”. “Roc” makes a lot more sense.

Merci beaucoup, mes amis!

De nada!

Well DarrenS you’ve definitely given me food for thought vis-à-vis après-midi (f.)

As far as manche vs. manche (for those less expert in the french language than DarrenS)
une manche = sleeve (shirt sleeve), or channel (as in the channel between England and France, «La Manche»), or game (as a portion of a larger contest - «J’ai gagné la première manche» = “I’ve won the first game (of the set)”).
un manche = handle (e.g. of tools or broom) «le manche à balai» = “the broomstick”