Je crève de faim.
zhuh krev duh FAA. Click below to hear this.
I’m dying of hunger.
Like the English statement, this French sentence can be taken seriously (there are thousands, maybe millions, of children who are literally dying of hunger every day) or figuratively (I only had a slice of toast and a cup of tea for breakfast, and now it’s past lunchtime and I’ve been on the run all morning).
Crever is a slang word for to die. Literally, it means to burst (un pneu crevé is a flat tire), so it probably came to acquire its slang meaning through a reference to the decomposition process. Not a very pretty image. The heartbreaking image I get is those distended bellies of malnourished children. Crever is more or less on a par with kick the bucket in English.
But when you combine this strong, somewhat vulgar verb with de faim, it loses most of its strength. It’s no stronger than I’m starving, which we rarely mean word for word.
Just don’t forget those who do mean it literally. The Heifer Project, UMCOR, Plenty International, and many other fine organizations can use your donations. Someone you will probably never meet thanks you.
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