Les Intraduisibles : cochonnerie

This Intraduisible ironically has too many ways to be translated in English because of all the contexts it can appear in. It is linked to the idea of being dirty and is related to the French word “cochon”, meaning “pig”. “Cochonnerie” is a very informal French term and the closest English equivalent would probably be “rubbish” (in its literal and figurative terms). It’s not quite so easy though, because it behaves structurally differently to the English word “rubbish”. Look below for the various uses of “cochonnerie”:

“Mes enfants ne mangent pas du tout de cochonnerie.”
“My kids don’t eat junk food at all.”

“Il ne dit que des cochonneries.”
“He only talks rubbish (fig.).”

“Vide toute la cochonnerie de la salle.”
“Clear all the rubbish (lit.) out of the room.”

Despite these various uses though, the most popular meaning is usually “junk food”, so this can refer to sweets or crisps or any other unhealthy snack! Generally “cochonnerie” will mean something dirty, useless or improper in whatever context it’s used. E.g. if someone’s saying “cochonneries” it would be them saying something rude or obscene, or if objects are referred to as “cochonnerie”, they’re junk.

Click HERE for more of our favourite “untranslatable” expressions!

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