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How The French Take English Internet Words And Make Them Acceptable For French Ears

from the non! dept

More than six years ago, we wrote about how the French, ever protective of their language, had rejected a bunch of commonly used words to describe new technologies such as email, and created their own official French-approved versions. The process, of course, is an ongoing one, and an attendee at a recent meeting explains the process by which the French come up with officially acceptable French ways of saying things like "ipod" and "pharming." As the article says: "The words are created by a panel of industrialists and savants, either from scratch or based on observations of evolving usage. The Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industry has set up a Special Commission on Terminology and Neologisms in Electronic Communications to carry out such work." Apparently, just letting languages evolve naturally (while perhaps requiring that much less bureaucracy) is just way too messy.

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  1. icon
    The Dukeman (profile), 15 Dec 2006 @ 9:36am

    Comment on Cultures and their governments

    Almost all cultures of the world have similar issues with their governments. The "common man", or"normal person" many times feels his government does not represent his own views. On the whole this idea is usually only true in appearance. A closer look almost always reveals that in the making of any policy decision, the view held by any of the citizens has been brought to light during the process, and just never made it to the implementation stage. That is what governments do for a living.

    This situation is not unlike the "classic" teenager vs parent idealogical struggle. The teenager usually thinks the parent is diametrically opposed to whatever their wishes are. In fact many times the teenager will hold a particular view on a subject merely because they know the parent holds a different view. In many ways this parallels the government/citizen relationship. The government is the political version of the parent. And the parent is the social version of the government. And as in the family unit, the government and citizen often hold the same underlying goals for the society in their own country as the parent and teenager hold for their family. So your own government may in reality hold the same overall view as yourself in matters of policy. It's usually only the end result the citizen sees. Even in the U.S. congressional committee meetings are usually not held in public. Only the voting on the floor or hearings held by Congress are public. Most people (including Congressmen) don't feel they can speak freely when they are being watched. The cliche is government as Big Brother, but the citizen becomes Big Brother when meetings become public. How many people act exactly the same when their parent sitting right next to them and when their parent is absent? Or spouse for that matter?

    That social aspect of behavior not withstanding, The French as a society have proudly considered themselves civilized among other other cultures for many years due to being pioneers in many social and technical arenas. They are perhaps the oldest of the modern societies in the area. Being first does not necessarily make you better, but it just might make you proud. They have notably excelled in gourmet cooking and in making films. Most world class chefs use French techniques in their cooking, and most world class film makers use techniques pioneered by the French. You would be hard pressed to find a Hollywood or even Independent movie that didn't have a French ancestor. Even comic book hero movies were pioneered by them (followed closely by the Italians). So the French trying to preserve their language and culture in a world with ever increasing outside influences should not be a surprise.

    That said, the American culture thrives on making up their own terms for things. Even for things that don't really exist, i.e. "Bennifer" and "Brangelina."

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