"Les vaches, dont les fermiers observent les bébés, se reposent dans le pré." Who is in the meadow?

StephenC1Kwiziq community member

"Les vaches, dont les fermiers observent les bébés, se reposent dans le pré." Who is in the meadow?

The cows, {including} or{ whose} the farmers watch the babies, rest in the meadow. Question "Who is in the meadow?" it could be 1. The cows. or 2. The babies. This is a questionable question.
Asked 4 years ago
JeanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributorCorrect answer

Les vaches are in the meadow. Elles s'y reposent.

"... dont les fermiers observent les bébés" is a phrase describing or giving more information about les vaches. Perhaps the calves are in the field also, but in this sentence it is not explicitly stated (they could be elsewhere like in the barn), and so all one can say for sure is that the cows are there in the field.

PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
The English translation of this sentence is ambiguous because it can logically be interpreted as "cows including the babies" or "cows excluding the babies." Unless the French is entirely unambiguous, then I recommend changing this question to "who do we know for certain is in the meadow."
LizC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I, too, translated this as dont meaning including the farmers and calves. They were all in the field! Too ambiguous since dont can be translated two ways. If not, why not. I doubt I’ll be using this phrase in Paris but you never know! Merci.

JosephC1Kwiziq community member

This type of sentence is really frustrating because as the grammar gets more complex, it becomes ambiguous in one sentence without context. You are asking us to assume they separated the babies to observe them but they could be observing them in the field with the mothers. Is there something very specific in the grammar that explains that we can't assume the babies are with the mothers? Because I don't see an explanation in the "quick lesson" and it is a contrary situation to examples where "dont" means including.

N. Hilary (Shamrockhill)C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Well, I have the same concerns about this question as Stephan, Paul, Liz and Joseph. And, I see that after several years, there has been no effort made to clarify the question.

As someone who looks out my kitchen window in the morning, coffee cup in hand, to gaze at my neighbor's cows in the meadow above our lake, I would say that the babies would most likely be with their mothers. The farmers may or may not be in the field with them all the time. They may be checking up on the babies periodically throughout the day. The situation is ambiguous.

I agree that the intent of the lesson is to teach that it is the cows who are in the meadow, and based on the information given, that is the answer I chose. However, it is still confusing because baby cows need their mother's milk and normally would not be separated from them.

I agree with Paul, and recommend changing the question to read: "Who do we know for certain is in the meadow?"

"Les vaches, dont les fermiers observent les bébés, se reposent dans le pré." Who is in the meadow?

The cows, {including} or{ whose} the farmers watch the babies, rest in the meadow. Question "Who is in the meadow?" it could be 1. The cows. or 2. The babies. This is a questionable question.

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