Il ne faut pas brûler les étapes!
eeln fo pah brew-lay lay zay-TAAP! Click below to hear this.
Don’t skip steps!
We are not talking about taking the stairs two at a time, nor about skipping in the stairwell instead of walking sedately.
This is about express trains, little girls, and engineers.
Brûler means to burn. Une étape is a step, stage, or phases. So, literally, brûler les étapes means to burn the stages.
Express trains generally stop at only a few stations, burning through the rest. That’s good, unless you wanted to get off at one of those other stops.
Then there’s the classic little girl who is “six going on 18”. She can’t wait to grow up, but it’s a mistake to let her think she can jump ahead. Brûler les étapes in this case? Not so good.
Then we have engineers. Not train drivers, but professionals in electronics, mechanical stuff, and so on. The joke about engineers is that they never read the instructions. (Hey, don’t take offense if you’re an instruction-reading engineer. It was one of you who made the joke in the first place.) These are the people who know how to solve a problem, after all, right? So building something from a kit is an enjoyable challenge, a game. Reading the instructions spoils the fun, like reading the last page of a novel first.
Except that brûler une étape may lead to skipping others as well, not to mention leftover nuts and bolts.
So in general, Il ne faut pas brûler les étapes! It can get you in trouble!