A few weeks after railing against les fainéants (‘slackers’), French President Emmanuel Macron’s latest remark on workers has been keeping the French media busy. While he was visiting a factory on the brink of closure last Thursday, a comment he made privately to a few of his aides was caught on camera:

Il y en a certains, au lieu de foutre le bordel, ils feraient mieux d’aller regarder s’ils ne peuvent pas avoir de postes là-bas…

Profanity is one of the areas of language where connotation and expressivity contribute most to meaning, which makes its passage into other languages difficult. So as the story of Mr Macron’s ‘sharp tongue’ made it to the foreign press, I thought it interesting to look at the various English translations of the colourful idiom foutre le bordel.

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