Untranslatable

Jan 6, 2014 | Translation, Uncategorized

StaircaseWe’ve all been there – when a barbed remark leaves you speechless and it is only when the moment has passed and it is too late that you think of the absolute perfect reply.

The French have a great phrase for this:

L’ésprit d’escalier  

Broadly translating as staircase wit, the story behind it comes from French encyclopaedist and philosopher Denis Diderot. When becoming the recipient of a remark which left him without words, he later explained (in French, but I’ll give you the English!)

A sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument levelled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again [when he reaches] the bottom of the stairs.

 

Image credits: uploaded by linder6580 on stock.xchng