Écoutez, parlons d’égal à égal.

Écoutez, parlons d’égal à égal.

ay-koo-tay, paar-law day-GAH lah ay-GAHL. Click below to hear this.

Listen, let’s speak as equals.

Uh-oh, this can’t be good. When people say things like this, it usually means they are going to tell you something you didn’t want to know, and you are going to have to do something about it that you didn’t want to do. It probably means that you Made A Mistake. You are about to get Chewed Out. And it’s usually The Boss who starts the conversation. Who else has the right to suggest speaking as equals?

If you are the one who wants to speak as an equal to the boss, you will need to be much more deferential. Something like Vous me permettriez de vous parler d’égal à égal ? (Would you permit me to speak to you as an equal?) has a better chance of working. And you’d better have something good to say. I don’t want to see you losing your job.

Note that in French, you are really speaking from equal to equal, d’égal à égal, implying that there are only two of you involved in the conversation, even though there could be more. But even if others join the chat, the expression stays the same. No plurals here.

Also note that there are actually two imperatives in this sentence: Écoutez is in the second person plural (it’s addressed to you), and parlons is in the first person plural (it’s addressed to us, and that form doesn’t really exist in English, so we have to say Let’s, which is the same as Let us). That sounds like asking for permission after all, rather than issuing a command.

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