Is "Approaching people beyond poverty" understandable?

Context: this is for a short caption in a trailer that presents a social study. The social experiment's goal is to meet people living in third world countries. Studies in such fields face many difficulties (language, customs, differences...). One of them is poverty rush conditions (for instance hygiene conditions: there is a huge life style gap between western life style and traditional one...).

What I mean by "Approaching people beyond poverty" is that the protocol required the experimenters to live like and with the same conditions the locals. "Beyond poverty" means to overcome this difficulty.

In french this construction works : Approcher les hommes au delà de la pauvreté et des différences. The literal translation is approaching people beyond poverty and differences


Beyond gives me the idea that these people are more than poor.

How about

Approaching people across the poverty barrier / boundary.

I don't see any negative connotations there, but that doesn't mean there are none, of course...

  • Thanks a lot for your answer. I didn't realized it could also be understood that way! The problem with barrier is that it emphasizes too much the difficulty. Barrier is a limitation and poverty is not a limitation. For instance, if I use "despite" it will create the same problem: a strict limitation. Would it makes more sens if I use punctuation like "Approaching people, beyond poverty" or "Approaching, beyond poverty, the people"? – JinSnow Feb 17 '14 at 9:19
  • How about boundary? Beyond poverty keeps, also with the comma, having the idea of "more than" rather than "across" for me. – oerkelens Feb 17 '14 at 9:20
  • Boundary sounds better but still keeps this limitation idea (way less that barrier however). In the same time, I understand that "across" is better and more precise than "beyond" so I will definitively go with "across". Thanks so much for your help Oerkelens! – JinSnow Feb 17 '14 at 9:34
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    approaching people beyond poverty also means to me that someone is approaching the poor to solve their problems more than just solving their poverty. Every client is like a family member of mine. To me, business is beyond monetary gains. – Maulik V Feb 17 '14 at 9:35
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    I agree with Maulik that though being ambiguous, I would interpret the phrase the way Maulik did. About the phrase, I'm not familiar with this usage of approaching people. However, I think Approaching people's beyond poverty, or even better, Approaching people beyond their poverty, could solve the ambiguity. – Damkerng T. Feb 17 '14 at 9:47

There are a couple of problems with this.

  1. Beyond in English implies a point or line (it may be physical or figurative) which is crossed. Consequently, beyond poverty means arriving in some sense at "poverty" and then going a step into something else. Consider Nietzsche's Jenseits von Gut und Böse—this is generally translated Beyond Good and Evil, but Shaw rendered it more pointedly as Through Good and Evil and Out the Other Side. This is why oerkelens suggests across the poverty boundary or barrier.

  2. English approach does not, I think, bear quite the direct and emotional sense which seems to be possible with French s’approcher; it is more tentative.

Perhaps reaching across the poverty line might suit your purpose? It suggests an effort to touch, to come in contact with others.

  • Thanks Stoney! I didn't know Approach is more tentative in English than in french. However, (to me) reaching sound more like rejoindre in french (something like meet, rejoin) Then my phrase will sound like being poor among the poor which is too pretentious. What I try to say by using approach is : getting closer in order to share times with the people, to live like them but not to be like them (the experimenters are not poor, there are just living like and among the poor for a definite amount of time ). – JinSnow Feb 20 '14 at 10:27
  • @Giim Reach covers a lot of territory. If you speak of "reaching across" something it means to extend a hand across X in order to grasp or touch Y. The same goal is also expressed by "reach out to Y". According to Linguee, this sense seems to be most often translated by atteindre. – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 20 '14 at 12:08
  • Thanks a lot @StoneyB, I didn't know "reach across" had this meaning. This is so useful, thanks again! – JinSnow Feb 27 '14 at 16:32

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