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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Non, non, monsieur, mais c'est un multifonction laser monochrome!

The box here are usually covered in writing in about twenty languages, because of the EU and all. However, I'm looking at one right now where the main announcements are only in English and French. The English reads: " monochrome laser multifunction," while the French reads "multifonction laser monochrome." I'm chuckling, thinking that the words are probably arranged in a different order in French to get past the language police, the ones who try to make sure names of things in French aren't too English. In this case, the manufacturer tells the lingual law officer, "Now look at the first word in English: 'monochrome.' Does that look anything like 'multifonction'? It sure as hell doesn't! And, now that I think of it, check out the third word: 'multifunction': why, that is nothing like 'monochrome' whatsoever!"

6 comments:

  1. Actually, that should be "ce n'est pas un multifonction laser monochrome."

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  2. I read an article within the last few months on the theme "France is secretly awesome!" that claimed that the classic Academie-driven language chauvinism was largely a thing of the past. I have, to be sure, only that single source for the claim.

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  3. I don't think so, ps, because what I was trying to say is NOT that it is not one of those, but that it IS. one of those.

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  4. Oh. But then it should be "c'est un multifonction laser monochrome," no? "N'est" is a contracted form of "ne est."

    I think you're being confused by the fact that in French the negatives come in pairs. "Ne ... pas" together make "not" (though in speech "ne" is often discarded). For a positive affirmation, you need to ditch the "n'" and contract "ce est" to "c'est."

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  5. OK, PS, I kept trying this through online translators, but they kept saying what I wrote. So finally I found a fluent French speaker, and she says you are correct. Thus, the change in title.

    Jim, you may be correct -- my sources are all old.

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  6. You can broaden your horizons considerably in a lumber yard in Ontario. You learn, for example, that drywall screws are 'vis a mur sec' ['screws for wall dry']. And then you notice that appliance specs take up about 50% more space in French than English, given all those clunky constructions around which we get in English with our system of unacknowledged compounds.

    There's probably a gain in reading them, though, since the French seem to pronounce less than half of what's on the page. Only Gaelic could top that.

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