Il se la coule douce.
eel suh lah koo-luh DOOSS. Click below to hear this.
He takes it real easy.
This is one of those expressions that it is nearly impossible to dissect. What on earth are you going to do with this apparently random set of words?
Couler means to flow, so we may imagine a silvery ribbon of river. Douce means gentle, soft, sweet, so we can imagine that the river is slding along lazily. So far so good.
But se–a reflexive or indirect pronoun, depending on how it is used–seems odd here. And la doesn’t help matters. It’s a direct object, but what on earth does it refer to? Our sentence, taken literally, seems to mean something like He flows it gently to himself, which is just plain silly.
Let’s go with He takes it easy, or He is really mellow, or maybe He is chilling out, and leave it at that. I think that’s as close as we’re going to get to understanding this phrase!
You may also hear Je me la coule douce (someone’s answer to What are you doing, now that you’re retired?). Good advice, under almost any circumstance.
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