In fact, it is at the moment when wearing them became exclusively feminine that they took it into their heads to systematically represent Saint-Just wearing an earring.

Source: http://revolution-fr.livejournal.com/88673.html

Do you think that this sentence is OK in terms of wording? I understand this in this way: In many representations of Saint Just he is portayed with earring in his ear. This fact is drummed into heads of the public ("they took it into their heads"). The picture of Saint Just's wearing earring "feminizes" him. I have problems with phrases "wearing them" and "wearing earring" when firstly is the pronoun used and just then the noun.

  • Seems fine to me... I've come across similarly built sentences in the past. – Victor Bazarov Oct 24 '15 at 22:08
  • A better translation would seem to be "In fact, it was when wearing earrings became exclusively feminine they thought fit to systematically represent Saint-Just wearing an earring." – MaxW Oct 28 '15 at 4:25

The sentence is OK in structure but suspect in meaning.

The original text comes from an opinion piece where it is quoted as a translation from the original French:

En fait, c’est au moment où le port en devint exclusivement féminin que 
l’on s’avisa de représenter Saint-Just systématiquement paré d’une 
boucle d’oreille. 

The "that they took it into their heads" is, if I'm being polite, less accurate than it could be.

So what's actually meant here?

Saint-Just was a major player in the French Revolution, a friend of Robespierre and, by common consent, not a very nice person.

The writer of the article referenced is attacking the popular representation of him as a vicious, effeminate dandy, claiming that much of this image has been as the result of manipulation by historians and writers. One example of this being that Saint-Just is often depicted with an earring.

So the argument here is that it was only after the point in fashion where the wearing of earrings was viewed as feminine adornment that it became normal practice to show him wearing one - the inference being that this was done as a slur on his virility or masculinity.

  • Tiny detail: Could you please add your translation of the questionable part? For the benefit of our readers that don't speak French and hence can't make the comparison themselves? Thanks! – Stephie Oct 25 '15 at 5:30
  • Wow... A grammar question asked and a history answer given... Overkill? – Victor Bazarov Oct 25 '15 at 13:27
  • @VictorBazarov Overkill? Almost certainly :) But I couldn't really see how to answer the OPs comments about interpretation without a bit of context. – PerryW Oct 26 '15 at 0:40
  • You didn't really answer his question. No examples or references... All you did was say "The sentence is OK in structure". That's a one-liner, and everything else is fluff, off-topic, really. – Victor Bazarov Oct 26 '15 at 0:42
  • @Stephie My French is shaky to say the least and it's not something that works word-for-word but I read it as something like: "In fact, it is only at the point [moment] where the wearing became exclusively feminine, that it was determined/decided to systematically represent Saint-Just with an earring" – PerryW Oct 26 '15 at 1:02

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