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When you find a diamond that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you discover an island that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you get an idea before any one else, you take out a patent on it: it is yours. So with me: I own the stars, because nobody else before me ever thought of owning them." ( From the book: A little Prince)

Someone read the bold part as shorthand of "So it is with me (It is the same with me)", where "so" is a pro-form.

I'm not sure I agree. I think "so" introduces a statement and "with me" means the same as "in my case". I'm not sure if people really say it this way, but the expanded version of "so with me" has to be "So the case with me is that ..."

What do you think? Thank you.

EDIT: typo

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    Can someone cite the original French? Jan 9 at 2:08
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    Think of it as: So [it is the same thing] with me: I own the stars
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 9 at 17:24
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    Perhaps because I spoke French first, I'm inclined to drop in the implied words right at the beginning: [It is] so with me: I own... (Eh, it's got a sort of clunky elegance, no?)
    – Mathieu K.
    Jan 10 at 5:44
  • @MathieuK. I think your interpretation is the one with the most sense.
    – xngtng
    Jan 10 at 14:21
  • I don't much like that translation.
    – Lambie
    Jan 10 at 22:41
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This is poetic language, translated from poetic French. The speaker is saying that his situation vis-a-vis the stars is like those others where one can claim ownership. I don't think you can parse it as precisely as you are trying to.

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Here's the original French, target phrase in bold:

Bien sûr. Quand tu trouves un diamant qui n’est à personne, il est à toi. Quand tu trouves une île qui n’est à personne, elle est à toi. Quand tu as une idée le premier, tu la fais breveter : elle est à toi. Et moi je possède les étoiles, puisque jamais personne avant moi n’a songé à les posséder.

The word-for-word translation is simply, And me, I possess the stars.... I would agree with your first interpretation:

So it is with me

Or if you prefer a clunkier, more more lengthy translation:

"And [so|as such] it follows that with me, I own the stars..."

This is due to the the logic that links the prior sentences to the following sentence. English doesn't use an "And me" emphasis, so I'm just replacing that with a somewhat different emphasis in English that follows the meaning. I think that's basically what the original translator did. They created their own stylistic emphasis that made logical sense.

@MishaLavrov points out that "as with me" tends to be more contrastive. I'd say the same about "In my case". One might think of "In my case" as being either neutral or contrastive, but the sentiment of the target sentence is comparative/similar. As such, the meaning inferred here ("So it is with me") is at a higher logical and relationship level, and not at a word level.

In conclusion, my advice to you would be to focus more on the overall logic of what is being said rather than focusing on the meaning of the single word "so".

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    Google Translate shortens this to "And I own the stars, since ..."
    – Peter
    Jan 9 at 6:14
  • @Peter - yes. 'moi je...' is a casual informal conversational way of emphasising 'I', and you could also translate it as 'as for me'. More formally and in writing we can use 'quant à moi' or 'personellement' Jan 9 at 15:15
  • The lengthier translation suggested at the end of this answer does not appear to be supported by the rest of this answer. Google Translate's "And" is essentially the same as your "And me"; more explanation of the steps from that to your suggested lengthier translation, please.
    – Mathieu K.
    Jan 10 at 5:39
  • My answer is based on interpreting the emphasis as a linkage from the prior sentences to the following sentence. It seems to be the best way to interpret the linkage to the following sentence even if the emphasis had been absent. It's just a matter of logic. Also, I'm basically agreeing with both @ Mari-LouA's comment and @K.A.Buhr's answer. I've updated my answer to reflect this. Jan 10 at 22:17
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I'm a native English speaker. My immediate interpretation was that the intended meaning was "so it is with me", and the alternative "as for me" doesn't sit right.

For a definitive answer, we'd have to ask the translator of that particular text, Katherine Woods, and this is complicated by the fact that she died in 1968. (Some have commented and/or answered that we ought to look to the original French text for the answer, but I think this is misguided. A good literary translation shouldn't simply be a word-for-word translation of the original text.)

We can make some guesses. Woods' translation is widely acknowledged to be the most "poetic" available translation despite (or perhaps because of?) the fact that it is not as word-for-word accurate as other translations. While it's admittedly a subjective assessment, the use of the phrase "so with me" to mean "so it is with me" seems significantly more poetic and a better match for the overall style of the translation than imagining she meant it in the other sense.

Also, "So with me: ..." punctuated with a colon also seems like a rather awkward way of writing "as for me", or "in my case". If this was what was actually meant, wouldn't it have made more sense to punctuate it "So, with me, ..." or "So with me, ..."? And wouldn't "So, as for me, ..." or even just "As for me..." be a more natural way to phrase it?

Note that Woods uses the much more natural construction "As for me, ..." in three places:

  • As for me, I was upset over that bolt. [Chapter 7]
  • As for me, I am concerned with matters of consequence. [Chapter 13, the same chapter your quotation comes from.]
  • "As for me," said the little prince to himself, "If I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water." [Chapter 23]

Unfortunately, "So for me" isn't used anywhere else, so we can't compare other usages. However, I think it's significant that it's punctuated with a colon here. The text I'm referencing reserves colons for two purposes, as far as I can see: (1) to introduce a quotation or a figure (e.g., "My Drawing Number Two looked like this: [drawing]); and (2) to join two related but independent sentences. It is never (mis)used as a substitute comma.

Now, I can't say for sure whether Woods or some editor along the way decided on this punctuation, but I think this provides some support for the idea that "So for me" was intended as a standalone sentence, and this supports the "So it is for me" interpretation.

So, to sum up, on the basis of:

  • the poetic style
  • the choice not to use the more natural construct "As for me, ..."
  • the punctuation

I think the "so it is with me" interpretation is more likely correct.

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    "As for me" is used to contrast. Take one of the quotes you mentioned: "Oh, no. Little golden objects that set lazy men to idle dreaming. As for me, I am concerned with matters of consequence. There is no time for idle dreaming in my life." The businessman is saying that his case is different from the case of lazy men. "So with me" is used to compare. The businessman says "So with me: I own the stars" to say that his case is similar to the case of taking out a patent or discovering an island. Jan 10 at 15:54
  • Yes, good point.
    – K. A. Buhr
    Jan 10 at 17:41
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Et moi je possède les étoiles, puisque jamais personne avant moi n’a songé à les posséder.

And I, I own the stars since no one before me dreamed of owning them. In poetic English, one might repeat the I pronoun there. [35 years as a French-to-English translator.]

Please note: The French also repeats the pronoun, only in French it's correct to say: And me, I own the stars. I prefer not to do that in English since The Little Prince is cutsey but formal.

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