Nous en sommes pour ainsi dire certaines.

The English provided for this sentence is “We’re quite certain of that.” I don’t see anything there that suggests “pour ainsi dire”, i.e. “so to speak” or “as it were”.

Well well well…

Time for some background check again!
And boy, what a discovery!

So Tatoeba, French section is cursed by the most annoying and useless translator you can find on internet… sacredceltic !

And guess what? He is the source of all the mistakes reported on this forum!
I checked out his translations, and I can find so many mistakes, mostly expressions that nobody ever used or just wrong translations that don’t fit the original sentences.
My guess is that he either has a weak French level and doesn’t know some basic rules or he feels like he is the best translator in the world and needs to inject his own style in his translations.
I can’t find a single page of his sentences without a few mistakes.

Best of all is that he seems very proud of his doings according to his bio.
Worst of all is that he translated over 130.000 sentences… which either makes him a jobless failed translator with too much free time or a cofounder of Tatoeba…

Ideally removing this user’s entries from tatoeba and clozemaster would be a bliss…


So back to your question: Indeed the “so to speak” is nowhere in the original sentence and it is just sacredceltic writing his usual shit…

As well, why the feminine case?

French comes from latin which has 3 genders: Masculine, feminine and neuter/neutral.

Neutral has been dropped but still exists in the form of masculine (example: Il pleut. Il fait beau. Il est l’heure.)
Also French language has this rule where when we don’t know the gender, we use the masculine gender (because neuter has been merged into masculine). Also that if a word has no feminine counterpart, we use the masculine form (we would use the neuter form if it still existed today).
Anyway all the rules and the root of French language point to using masculine over feminine form.

So I have no idea why sacredceltic often translates with feminine form… This happens to a hell lot of his translations, and is ultimately wrong. When there is no context, the best translation is the most context-free, neutral translation (otherwise for a single sentence, you can end up with hundred of translations, and that’s not the goal). And he fails almost every single time.


Thanks for this perspective! It’s very helpful! (And also gratifying, since I’d been wondering about sacredceltic…)

That Tatoeba contributor is the source of nearly every sentence I’ve asked about, and he gets into arguments with people who query his more whimsical translations!


He does seem to start from an attitude of defensive argument, rather than open discussion, which is unfortunate. I’ve come to view his username as a red flag, but it would be interesting to know exactly what proportion of his sentences are questionable, given that he’s contributed so many.

The internet has really opened up language learning, but crowdsourcing has its challenges. I guess it’s good practice to give contributors the benefit of the doubt while at the same time taking all information as ultimately provisional.

Well that’s because Tatoeba as a community driven website fails to give the right tools… There is no admin to federate the translations (Wikipedia style) or upvote/downvote system (UrbanDictionary style). Heck, there is not even a report feature (literally ALL community driven websites). Not to talk about the lack of guidelines on how things should be translated.

As of how many translations he got wrong? Well, honestly it’s hard to find a page without a completely wrong translation. A page is about 80 translations. And it’s even harder to find a page without a bunch of very lousy translations that are clearly his “style” (meaning trying to create his own French expressions, being the less neutral possible, etc). On the first page I could already find at least 10 sentences that sound like a foreigner trying to learn French.

Let’s take one of the most common sentences in all languages: “No it can’t be!” Non, cela ne se peut ! - Exemple de phrase en français — Tatoeba
Well he couldn’t even translate it normally… There is nobody at all who says that.
His translation “non cela ne se peut” gives 40k Google results. Instead it should have been “non c’est impossible” or “non ce n’est pas possible”, and these sentences give 500k Google results each.

Statistically speaking? He is terrible…


Just for the record, what translation do you suggest instead?

“We are, so to speak, certain of it” sounds like a safe translation to me. I’m no English native speaker, but it feels right; plus it just happens to match word per word the French “pour (to) ainsi (so) dire (tell)”.