June 12, 2009

French Dictionary update

As usual, today's update to the French dictionary adds various new words and translations.

One interesting word that was missing, and is still missing from various of the large paper dictionaries, is étasunien, a neologism derived from États-Unis, and becoming increasingly common in journalistic writing. It came to my attention particularly this week as I was working on some translations for a UK newspaper. As rightly pointed out by my collaborator, although a slightly ugly word, it covers cases where a degree of "neutrality" is required: although the term américain is commonly used in French (as indeed the word American in English) to imply "from the US", there are various countries that consider themselves to be part of "America", but not part of the US. We were then faced with an interesting translation problem: where to draw the line between not wishing to express political or cultural bias, and avoiding a slightly awkward neologism where such a word was not present in the original text. When making a decision between, say, troupes américaines and troupes étasuniennes, there's some balance to strike between how well the text "reads" and politcal correctness. I hope in this case that we struck the right balance.

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