…être dans de beaux draps (litterally, “to find oneself in some pretty – ironic tone – sheets!”…you said, what??)!
être dans de beaux draps
(idiomatic) To be up the creek without a paddle; be in trouble; be in a pickle; be in a spot of bother.
Etymology: white sheets worn for the atonement of one’s sins. (Source: Wiktionnaire)
To be in a right fix/mess (Source: Le Grand Robert & Collins)
French definition :
Être dans une position très fâcheuse. Autrefois on renforçait encore la locution par l’épithète ironique blancs : « Ah ! coquines, vous nous mettez dans de beaux draps blancs ! » (Molière)
Cette locution pittoresque appartient à la catégorie des expressions où beau est pris ironiquement, comme beau sire, beau museau, cela vous fera une belle jambe.
(Source : Dictionnaire des expressions et locutions traditionnelles, Maurice Rat, Larousse – un ouvrage qui m’a généreusement été offert par les auteurs du blog Le mot juste en anglais)
Obviously an old expression that is still used in everyday language. I was curious to see how Google Translate would handle it, and I was happy to see it translated the idiom correctly:
Traduire « tu es dans de beaux draps » en Anglais : « tu es dans de beaux draps » – « You’re in trouble » (Source: translate.google.com)
BabelFish, not so much :
Please find your translated text below:
- tu es dans de beaux draps (French)
- you are in beautiful sheets (English)
Expressions and idioms remain a translation difficulty that make a professional translator irreplaceable. There are so many variables — context, audience, tone, register – we have yet to see the day when a machine can match that human skillset (see Nataly Kelly’s fantastic article on the subject: Why Machines Alone Can Not Solve the World’s Translation Problem). Hardware and software help us do our job better, from word processing software with spell check to computer-assisted translation software, from on-line and digital dictionaries to web research and e-mail correspondence or file exchange on the cloud, we work much more efficiently today than we ever have.
That is until there are technical difficulties. I rely on so much technology to work at home (or in an office), it makes me more vulnerable. There are more things that can go wrong, and I have endured them all this past winter: computer crash, computer virus, internet connection failure, software bug, corrupted files, printer driver no longer available making my printer obsolete, power outage… In those situations, I feel like I am “up a creek without a paddle” and want to scream! Because when one thing stops working, it seems to be contagious and the others follow.
Thankfully, I have wonderful tech support but I also live in a world where I can find a wifi connection in almost any restaurant, and after a rough night with no power or heat a couple of weeks ago when temperatures dropped to below freezing, I was able to transfer my files from my desktop (using my power back-up to turn it on) to the laptop with a thumb drive. And then finalize my editing job and e-mail the files out before the deadline from an IHOP – I had not been to one in years but the heat, warm eggs, bacon, banana pancakes and coffee made for the best breakfast I have ever had!
We don’t realize how much we need something until it is gone – and at that point, “on est dans de beaux draps”.