Found this quoted in a book 'Les pretres ne sont pas ce qu'un vain peuple pense; Notre credulite fait toute leur science (circumflex accent on pretres, and acutes on the two es in credulite - I can't find accents, either).
Babel fish says it means 'The priests are not this qu'un vain people thinks; our credulite to fair all their science' which doesn't help a lot. My French is pretty poor - can anybody help, please?
Priests are only what empty people think; our credulity makes up all their knowledge.
My French is ropey too, that was provided by my husband. He thinks its OK.
Thanks so much Linda, and Linda's husband - that fits well in the context I have for it. It's a fairly complicated concept in English, no wonder I couldn't understand it in French!
It would be nice to be able accurately to translate Voltaire's rhyming couplet into an English rhyming couplet. I can't.
Not a word-for-word translation exactly, but aiming to reflect the essence of the meaning and structure of the original:
'The priesthood is not what the common people idly suppose. The superior expertise of priests is all a figment of our gullibility.'
Something similar might of course be said about Babelfish. At least that program can make us all feel like expert translators by comparison!
Our priests are not as foolish people folks believe
Oops, hit Post in error.
Our priests are not as foolish folks believe:
They only thrive because we're all naive.
Priests are not quite as fools believe;
They wisely let us self-deceive.
That nails it nicely, Hugh!
And RJA's version is quite good. Could be improved to good by deleting 'quite'.
Post Edited (12-10-04 19:03)
It now makes perfect sense, AND is a couplet (or rather choice of couplets) Thanks everyone.