Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What makes France so 'special'.

This may look like a hoax but it really isn’t. It just proves that reality can once again surpass fiction.
I just found out that there is in France an official General Committee of Terminology and Neology (Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie). It was created in 1996 under the authority of the French Prime Minister. Its point is to “enrich the French language by creating new words and thus promotes French.”. It has 17 members- including the Permanent Secretary of the Académie Française. (I've always loved the idea of a 'Permanent' Secretary - sounds so... democratic!) and is officially part of the French Administration. .
What they do is basically translate words (mostly English ones of course) into “correct French equivalents” , then their decisions are published in the Journal Officiel - the government publication listing new acts, laws ect… So even though it may be funny, it is no joke. It is an official matter and official matters sanctified by the state ought to be treated… officially seriously.
But this is not all – they sometimes come up with really funny things too. Their latest official decision - published in the J.O. is their translation of “BLOG” (from ‘web’ + ‘log’) which mus now be called ‘bloc-note’ (i.e. ‘note pad’) shortened into ‘BLOC’. I kid you not!
Whether you know it or not, (and most likely ‘not’), if you’re French, you’re actually reading our ‘bloc’. I see what you’re thinking… and you’re right! It is a dumb idea which even the Quebecois (who have their own ‘Bloc’, albeit quite different) have not dared to come up with yet.
What I wonder though is whether those 17 people in charge of that committee – probably generously paid by taxpayers’ money – have any idea of the ludicrousness of their idiotic decision!
Well, in any case, they gave me a good laugh which in itself makes their existence worth my taxpayer's money!


At 18:23, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm rolling on the floor laughing because you look so contagious... Good ! It’s great to know that each day we are given a gift by the French Administration to avoid us the dullness and make us so surprised. Really I'm dumbfound ! I could hardly imagine such a mess and waste of taxes when members of the "Académie Française" are working on the French dictionary to decide which word to add or take out... Something escapes me.
Thanks to my old dictionary (already 7 years but looking younger) we are informed that the English word “mail” can be written “mail or mél” by French people. Am I rewriting a part of your article by any chance ? By the way, do you know that things are changing ? Currently in the French Administration, “mél” is replaced by “courriel” short cut of “courrier électronique”. Faster ? That’s sounds typically French, isn’t it ? Personally I prefer the word “k.o.” in the two languages :-)
One’s more I’m ROFL as I imagine people here and there waiting impatiently the publication of the Journal Officiel to do as demanded. Thanks Joker to the Thief for your riot.


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