Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Keeping Languages Pure? Venezuala, France, and Approved Words

"Venezuela Fights Use of English Words" examiner.com (Minneapolis) (February 26, 2008)

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has set out to protect his people from words like "mouse," "password," "marketing," and other English-language technical and business terms. A short list, with the 'correct' word in parenthesis:
  • "staff" ("equipo")
  • "marketing" ("mercadeo")
  • "password" ("contrasena")
  • "mouse" ("raton")
  • "meeting" ("reunion")
  • "sponsor" ("patrocinador")
The French have tried something like this, with an "official" French dictionary. The French dictionary doesn't carry any legal clout, but to use a word which is not in the official French dictionary is, how do you say it? Not French.

The most recent complete official French dictionary is Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, huitième édition. It was published in 1935.

L'Académie française (The French Academy), established 1635, realizing that even their language may change, have been working on an updated dictionary. They published the first volume of Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, neuvième édition in 1992. It brings the official set of twentieth-century French words up to "onglette." (I think "onglette" means 'small ongle,' or 'small nail' - it's a small chiseling tool that engravers use. I found that at "More Procrastination - Should I be doing something else? - Another Roadside Turnoff" (November 28, 2006).)

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