Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Monoglot Rosbifs are twice blessed

If you’re reading this you’re anglophone. So consider yourself lucky.

On a France Inter radio chat-show the head of Microsoft in France had to field repeated whinges about the plethora of manuals, help sources, etc, all in English. In response this pragmatic Frenchman uttered the following Académie Francaise heresy: if you want to understand computers you have to speak English.

And this is why. In protecting their language (with which I sympathise) the French authorities have translated all those terse computeresque terms into pure French. So, don’t send an email, rather envoyer un courrier électronique.

My computer has an OS (operating system) called Windows XP. My friend in Milly-la-Foret also has XP but it's his système d’exploitation. And perhaps the French for word processing (traitement de texte) would be otherwise unexceptional if it weren’t for those Berlingo vans making deliveries from the local traiteur. But then a hard disk may look like a slice of charcuterie.

Whatever one’s feelings about computers they’re not quaint which is the quality these translations confer. Finally here’s a lulu. Where we refer to a Heath Robinson contraption the Americans say Rube Goldberg device. And the French say: un engin bricolé avec les moyens du bord - a thingy put together with what’s to hand.

2 comments:

Rosie said...

sometimes I think that french translations are simply perverse and to make a point...like the way they say talky-walky instead of walkie-talkie

Barrett Bonden said...

Rosie: D'accord. However, much as I love France, the French and the French language I do get a lot of unforgivably juvenile pleasure from this sort of thing.