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4 mai, 2010

Lost in French translation


Je suis tombé une petite liste de vocabulaire français dressée par Charles Bremner, correspondant du Times à Paris, pour aider l’étranger qui débarquerait en France en ce moment à suivre les péripéties de la campagne électorale .

Ça m’a amusé terriblement, ce décryptage de mots tellement usés qu’ils n’ont plus aucun sens. C’est le propre de toutes les cultures que d’utiliser des euphémismes pour cacher certaines vérités pas très agréables à entendre. Il faut parfois le regard de l’étranger ou de l’enfant pour faire ressortir les degrés de ridicule, les locaux étant trop plongés dans leur petit monde avec sa langue de bois et conventions pour distinguer le dérisoire de l’essentiel. L’éternel :  «  L’empereur est nu! »

Mais lisez donc cette perspective. Je crois que Bremner sait de quoi il parle.

timesheadbglogo_1.gifNovember 13, 2006
Charles Bremner is Paris Correspondent for The Times and has previously reported from New York and Brussels

Lost in French translation

Since we are in election season, it might be helpful to offer a little glossary of French political terms. Some are useful. Some convey concepts that are too abstract for the language of Chaucer. Some mean their opposite or nothing at all. [Read here for latest on Ségolène Royal and Socialists]

Of course this word game can be played with any culture. Try translating Tony Blair’s « joined-up thinking » into another language. I’d be grateful for suggestions for expanding this guide:

acteur = anyone involved in anything. ex: les acteurs du développement rural = farmers etc…

altermondialiste = anti-capitalist, anti-free trade (literally other-worldist). A little flaky but to be admired

Anglo-Saxon = hegemonic power bent on promoting le libéralisme (see below) and harming France

blairisme = stealth conservative, alien, used as insult (see Anglo-Saxon, liberal)

crise (la) = state that the French believe they live in since mid-1980s

délocalisation= moving a factory to a cheaper country (see libéral, Anglo-Saxon, blairisme etc). Opposed by presidential candidates

déloyal = unfair, low cost (la concurrence déloyal = someone who charges less than you)

déclinologue = unpatriotic commentator, liberal

diversité culturelle = French, not Anglo-Saxon (see above)

dumping = cutting prices or costs, le dumping social = setting low employment taxes

exception française = different, difficult, anti-Anglo-Saxon, anti-liberal

flexibilité = firing workers, to be resisted by social movement, dirty word (see blairisme).

gaullisme = « a certain idea of France » = authoritarian rule, welfare state, assertive behaviour abroad (see volontarisme, exception française etc)

un jeune: a young person = urban teenager with a can of petrol

libéral = pro-market, unpatriotic, Anglo-Saxon, usually ultra. Ex. Chirac a promis que le liberalisme ne vaincra jamais le social (Chirac promised that liberalism would never triumph over the welfare state)

militant = member of a political party

modèle scandinave = paradise, desired by French Socialists.

mondialisation = globalisation, plot by foreign liberals (see above) and French collaborators to impoverish France

morosité, désarroi = glum mood afflicting France since mid-80s. Diagnosed by déclinologues

pôle = centre, area ex: pôle de conversion, relocation area. Pôle financier = Paris base of judges investigating corrupt politicians and businessmen.
Ex. « I will make France a pole of sustainable development » — Ségolène Royal

républicain = French, democratic, patriotic, meaningless. ex:
valeurs républicaines (things you believe in)
banquet républicain (dinner with politicians)
la justice républicaine (what you praise when you win a court case)

rupture = clean break with the past, liberal. Proposed by Nicolas Sarkozy until it frightened off voters

sérénité, serein = unworried, guilty (state of mind professed by politicians awaiting trial, see justice républicaine)

social = industrial relations, welfare state, as in
mouvement social = social movement = nothing moves = strike
partenaires sociaux (social partners) = bosses and trade unions, adversaries

dialogue social = when they talk
plan social = laying off employees

solidarité = supporting a worthy cause. ex: Je suis solidaire avec le mouvement social = I don’t mind waiting hours for a train because I support the railway strike.

stock option = scandalous wheeze by bosses to enrich themselves

traversée du desert = crossing of the desert, brief period after election defeat/criminal conviction before standing for re-election:

volontarisme, volontariste = forcing the impossible or unreasonable to happen. Ex: Ségolène Royal says that le volontarisme will enable her to cut taxes and raise welfare spending. Expressed by Napoléon Bonaparte’s saying: « Impossible n’est pas français » (Impossible is not French)

Posted by Charles Bremner on November 13, 2006 at 01:03 PM in France, Media, Politics | Permalink



2 commentaires »

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