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Malin: Smart or Evil?

The adjective malin appears in two recent videos on Yabla, and it has two very different meanings in each. In the last segment of Le Jour où tout a basculé: Notre appartement est hanté, we finally get to the bottom of the spooky occurrences in Harold and Claire's apartment, thanks to Harold's clever investigations:

 

Mais cette fois-ci, le couple s'est attaqué à un adversaire plus malin que les autres.

But this time, the couple tackled an opponent who was more clever than the others.

Caption 34, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Notre appartement est hanté - Part 8

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And in Lionel's visit to Toul Cathedral, we learn about the cathedral's gargoyles and what they represent: 

 

Ici là-bas, on a une représentation, du diable, du malin, d'un démon.

Here, over there, we have a representation of the devil, of the evil one, of a demon.

Captions 27-28, Lionel - La Cathédrale de Toul - Part 2

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While malin is most often used as an adjective meaning "smart," it can also have darker undertones, especially when used as a noun. In the second example, the tour guide uses it as a synonym for the devil, but un malin can also just refer to a trickster or a wily person. And don't forget that "smart" can have a negative connotation in English too:

 

Ça sera peut-être d'avoir l'air malin dans l'interview, hein.

It might be looking like a smart aleck in the interview, you know?

Caption 21, Micro-Trottoirs - Un rêve récurrent?

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Bien sûr. Et nous aussi on voudrait du sucre, gros malin!

Of course. And us too, we would like some sugar, wise guy!

Caption 14, Il était une fois... la vie - 14. La bouche et les dents - Part 3

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Ne fais pas le malin avec moi. 
Don't get smart with me. 

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Note that the feminine form of malin isn't maline, but maligne:

 

Et même, très maligne, ma petite Clémentine!

And even very clever, my little Clémentine!

Caption 51, Manon et Clémentine - Conjugaison du verbe être

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You'll also see this -in/-igne ending in the word bénin/bénigne (benign, minor), which is actually an antonym of malin/maligneune tumeur maligne is a malignant tumor, and une tumeur bénigne is a benign tumor.  

 

Manu le Malin is a famous French hardcore DJ. You can check out some interviews with him on Yabla. 

 

Thanks for reading! Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Vocabulary

Getting Real with "Réaliser"

In a previous lesson, we explored the words compte and compter, which are used in a wide variety of expressions beyond their most basic meanings (“account” and “to count,” respectively). One of these expressions is se rendre compte, which literally means “to give an account to oneself,” but which is best translated as “to realize”: 

 

Et bien sûr nous allons aussi nous rendre compte que Metz est une ville riche par son patrimoine, son passé.

And of course we'll also realize that Metz is a rich city through its heritage, its past.

Captions 14-15, Lionel à Metz - Part 1

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“To realize” also has a French cognate, réaliser. While réaliser can be used as a synonym of se rendre compte, it more often refers to realizing something in the sense of making something a reality, such as a goal or a dream: 

 

C'est un rêve qui va être chaud à réaliser: c'est pouvoir voir Michael Jackson.

It's a dream that's going to be hard to realize: it's being able to see Michael Jackson.

Captions 26-27, Micro-Trottoirs - Un rêve récurrent?

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While this sense of “to realize” is more of a formal and often technical term, réaliser is more commonly used as a synonym of faire (to make or to do). For example, “to realize a recipe” isn’t as common a phrase in English as réaliser une recette is in French: 

 

Ben, pour réaliser, euh, la recette, ben on a besoin des... des homards.

Well, to make, uh, this recipe, well we need some... some lobsters.

Caption 29, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard - Part 1

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Margaux and Manon even use réaliser in their definition of faire:

 

"Faire" veut dire construire ou fabriquer ou réaliser quelque chose de concret, de matériel.

"Faire" means to build or make or achieve something concrete, material.

Caption 9, Margaux et Manon - Emplois du verbe faire

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If you make the verb reflexive, it means "to become reality" or, in the case of wishes and dreams, "to come true":

Tous mes rêves se sont réalisés.
All my dreams came true.

 

Some other synonyms of réaliser are accomplir (to accomplish), exécuter (to execute, carry out), créer (to create), atteindre (to achieve), and achever (to finish, complete). 

 

Réaliser is also an important verb in film terminology, meaning “to direct.” In fact, its noun form, réalisateur, specifically means “film director”: 

 

Alors, c'est le réalisateur qui s'est battu pour elle.

So, it was the director who fought for her.

Caption 4, Le Journal - Marion Cotillard

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You can also use the word cinéaste, or “filmmaker,” instead of réalisateur. A “cineaste” in English is either a filmmaker or a film buff (or both!). 

 

Another noun form of réaliser is réalisation, which generally means “realization” or “fulfillment,” but can also mean “design” or “creation” in architectural parlance. As France contains a wealth of architectural treasures, you’ll come across this word a lot in Yabla travel videos: 

 

La réalisation architecturale du parc a été confiée en mille neuf cent quatre-vingt trois.

The park's architectural design was assigned in nineteen eighty-three.

Caption 8, De nouvelles découvertes avec Marion - Le Parc de la Villette

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Et à l'entrée, pour les amateurs d'architecture, il y a cette extraordinaire réalisation Le Corbusier.

And at the entrance, for architecture enthusiasts, there is this extraordinary Le Corbusier creation.

Captions 11-12, Voyage dans Paris - Le Treizième arrondissement de Paris

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We hope you realize all of your dreams and goals, whether they’re as small as making a recipe or as large as constructing a building, or as fun as learning French with Yabla!  

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Vocabulary

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