Cloud Computing, C'est Quoi En Français ?

Cloud Computing, C’est Quoi En Français ?

It is becoming increasingly difficult for the French language to keep up with the pace of technology, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal. New buzzwords like “cloud computing,” “social media” and “web 2.0” are introduced frequently, and since new French translations for English words have to be created by a committee and approved by France’s General Commission of Terminology and Neology and other regulatory bodies, the French language often lags behind.

For example, the Wall Street Journal notes that it took a committee that specialises in coming up with French equivalents for English computing technology terms 18 months to come up with a translation for cloud computing. The result, “informatique en nuage,” which literally means “computing on a cloud,” was deemed unsatisfactory.

So, until the committee comes up with a new translation, the French language is left without a standard term to describe what Wikipedia defines as “a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources are provided as a service over the Internet.”

In the Wall Street Journal article, Xavier North, the head of the General Delegation, defends the approval process, saying, “Rigor cannot be compromised.” However, at this rate, by the time they get a translation approved, “cloud computing” will be old news instead of the “next big thing.”

Each year, about 300 new French terms make it through the approval process to become part of the French language. Creating French alternatives to imported English phrases is an important part of keeping the French language healthy and relevant, but it seems like the process needs to move a little bit faster to keep up with the increased pace of technological change.

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5 replies
  1. Howard Huws
    Howard Huws says:

    I can see the problem: what does “dynamically scaleable and often virtualised resources” mean in English? Attempting to translate such opaque jargon can be a waste of time and effort, as it passes so quickly (and deservedly) into disuse.

    Reply
  2. William Quinton
    William Quinton says:

    Quite typical of the French! There’d be no problem if they just went with the flow and allowed their language to evolve. I remember their Minister for Culture in the early 90’s was a chap called Toubon who spent a good deal of effort trying to cut down the use of English in the French media, to such an extent that the press started referring to him as Monsieur Allgood.

    Reply

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