The French newspapers Liberation and Le Monde both ran stories on
March 7 about another move on the part of the French Ministry of
Culture to protect the national language -- particularly against
the further incursion of anglicisms.
This time, the sentinels of language were after the growing use
of English terminology on the World Wide Web.
Apparently, the ministry was appalled when President Chirac,
during a recent visit to a Paris commercial district popular among
start-up Internet companies, was overheard using the terms
"e-mail," "le start-up" and -- our favorite -- "les
So, what did the language police suggest?
For "e-mail," their recommendation was le courrier electrique --
descriptive yet boring, like "electronic mail" itself.
For "start-up," they waxed a little more allusive, suggesting la
jeune pousse -- "young sprout" or "young shoot," in the botanical
We'll have to wait and see whether the guardians of French will
be able to influence the lingua franca of the borderless Web.
Just say no
Another adventure in language, this one a lot closer to
Insider received in the mail a flyer from a local wine shop that
periodically cosponsors wine tastings with restaurants.
Its latest announcement was of an inclusive-priced dinner and
tasting at an Egyptian restaurant, and Italian wines would be
Across the top of the letter-size announcement, in large bold
type, was the ill-advised heading "Una Italia e Arabia Notte."
Apparently, what the wine shop's proprietors were after was
something like "An Italian and Arabian Night," perhaps playing on
the idea of "The Arabian Nights" saga, but they missed by a mile,
and what they came up with was, in Italian, all but nonsense
(We sense they may have had the assistance of one of those
on-line-translator Web sites.)
This couldn't help but remind us of a yellowing old clip over a
colleague's desk here, one that points up the inadvisability of
playing with languages one does not know.
The big bold headline on the clip is the hilarious "Germans Say
Nien to IBTA Over Translation Flap." (Someone obviously should've
said "Nein!" to the headline writer.)
And what publication is this ageless gem from? ... You're
Caned and able
Given the unpredictability of Caribbean weather, many resorts in
the region tuck an umbrella or two in the closet in each guest room
-- an amenity well appreciated when the heavens do open.
changing demographics of travel in the region poses yet another
amenity question: With people living longer and traveling farther
afield, it is very common to see lots of lead-heads (gray-haired
folk) at front desks.
So, what to offer the seniors as an in-room amenity without
wounding egos or implying physical limitations?
Jumby Bay resort on Antigua has come up with one answer.
In addition to large, sturdy umbrellas in each guest closet, the
resort includes a pair of hand-carved, rubber-tipped canes -- uh,
The cobblestone pathways at the resort can pose a challenge, and
it makes a lot of sense to use the items, especially at night. That
way, everyone can save face without falling on it.
But it's got a good beat
Sad commentary on the geniuses who are designing our computer
products -- or at least signing off on their advertising.
The classically minded out there may have noted a new television
ad for Microsoft's Internet Explorer e-mail program that uses as
its musical motif the "Confutatis Maledictis" from Mozart's
"Where do you want to go today?" is the cheery line on the
The line appears while a chorus sings "Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis," which translates as "The damned and
accursed are consigned to the flames of hell."
Maybe for ad purposes, it's better to stick to the rich stock of
tunes by the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Elton John and the like. If
you play their records slowly enough (or backwards), at least you
can vet the words.