Email sent to Marianne magazine on December 23rd 2003

December 23rd, 2003

Dear Marianne,

French possesses a number of phrases that match the English word "checkpoint": the traditional designation "barrage (militaire, de police)" along with more or less literal calques like "point de contrôle", "point de passage". On wonders then why Julien Lacorie should feel compelled to bombard the reader with the franglais term "check point" (in his article entitled "Israel. Le Syndrome du check point", published in the N. 347 issue of Marianne). Besides, doesn’t the word appear rather subdued in the light of the vile acts attributed to soldiers manning these checkpoints? Certainly "point de passage à tabac" would have been in this case a more suitable translation...

In the same issue of your magazaine, in a review of Ted Stanger’s indictment of the French language (“Sacrés Français !"), one reads that the phrase "risque zéro" defies understanding and translation when in fact it merely follows a pattern set by such English expressions as "zero failure", "zero downtime", "zero maintenance", "zero voltage", "zero paper", etc., commonly encountered in technical parlance.

Excuse my English,

Christian Lassure - English For Techies

© Christian Lassure - English For Techies

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