Some Quality Control would not Hurt!…

Finally Maggie in NYC got her results in both reading comprehension and written expression… It was about time! She waited more than one month… actually she got the results of her oral interaction test long before and this exam was the very last she took… I guess the results had been in for quite a while and the PSC had forgotten to forward them… then someone suddenly woke up yesterday afternoon!… Anyways, she got an E (exemption) on both tests… she even obtained a perfect score (65/65) in written expression! Quite amazing given that this test is not easy at all… lots of traps and many long texts that no one has time to read entirely… Another success story and someone who will probably get the position she applied for with Foreign Affairs…  I wish her the best of luck!

On the weekend I came across something that kind of disturbed me… Originating from any Federal Departments, I would have probably giggled and made fun of their «français boiteux»… but what I read originated from the «bureau des langues officielles» in Montreal. Of course this generic text can be found in the PSC templates, which I assume were created in Ottawa… yet one would think that Francophones located in Montreal would have spotted this text right away (unless they never read what they are actually sending to candidates)!…

When my trainees get their official results, most of the time, they forward me the email they received from the PSC… since I am always eager to know their results, I never read the generic introduction message of this email. Honestly I am not interested in whatever is written… my only concern is: did my student make it?… I made an exception last Saturday, I probably had some spare time since I read the whole thing… Then I had the shock of my life! «Quelle horreur!!!»… I had to read this paragraph more than once to make sure I was not having a bad dream:

VEUILLEZ NE PAS RÉPONDRE À CE COURRIEL VIA VOTRE SYSTÈME DE COURRIEL. VOTRE COURRIEL NE SERA PAS RÉPONDU.

What in the hell is that?!!?… Everything is utterly incorrect in this short paragraph!… It looks like someone scanned the English version of this warning through some Google free translator:

PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL VIA YOUR EMAIL SYSTEM. YOUR EMAIL WILL NOT BE ANSWERED.

No one could ever come up with a better literal translation than this one!… Even with time and effort, nothing would beat this paragraph. Maybe it is time for a crash course in French… First of all, «courriel» is the electronic version of «courrier» (mail) in French… it actually stands for the longer version «courrier électronique»… what we have here is a «message électronique», not a «courriel»… usually, when referring to the email system, we say «système de messagerie électronique»… and, grammaticaly, we do not use the passive voice in French for expressions such as I have been told or your email will not be answeredEven my beginners know that!… Am I being a fussy purist?… I really do not think so! I just cannot stand anyone murdering my mother tongue!… Here is what I do with this horrific paragraph:

VEUILLEZ NE PAS RÉPONDRE À CE COURRIEL VIA VOTRE SYSTÈME DE COURRIEL. VOTRE COURRIEL NE SERA PAS RÉPONDU.

Not much left indeed!… To make sure that Francophones who do not happen to be bilingual would understand such a warning, it should read like this:

VEUILLEZ NE PAS RÉPONDRE À CE MESSAGE VIA VOTRE SYSTÈME DE MESSAGERIE ÉLECTRONIQUE PARCE QUE VOUS NE RECEVREZ AUCUNE RÉPONSE.

Et voilà!… Le tour est joué!… Actually, my first reaction was to reply to this email in order to pinpoint the mistakes… then I realized that no one would read it!… L’ironie du sort quoi!… Of course, I could see this as a pathetic joke… and move on… yet I do have a serious problem when I think of all those Anglophones having their second language skills assessed by people from the PSC… If those who claim to be a so-called panel of experts in French cannot even write (or at least review and correct) such a short and simple paragraph according to the French language standards, well… I am scared!… What if their assessment were based upon their own flaws and mistakes?… I have seen enough of those in both their reading comprehension and written expression tests to be worried!… Why would it be different when they are evaluating candidates on their abilities to communicate orally in French?… It is certainly something to ponder upon seriously… Anyone claiming the right of assessing others on their second language abilities should be flawless experts… therefore each time I come across something that tells me otherwise, I do question the present system…

“J’ai toujours rencontré si peu d’esprit autour de moi qu’il a bien fallu que j’utilise le mien”

Paul Léautaud

 

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2 Comments

  1. Isabelle
    Posted July 30, 2009 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Oui, ce genre d’exemple est très triste…

    Je trouve ça humiliant que personne ne prenne la peine de vérifier les traductions faites d’une langue à l’autre.

    En France aussi, sur une échelle moins importante cependant, nous avons beaucoup de mal avec les traductions en anglais. Toutes les informations aux touristes sont souvent très mal traduites, sans parler des traductions des menus dans les restaurants, qui sont très souvent faites par traducteur automatique, et là, c’est le fou rire garanti !!!

    • Posted July 30, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Isabelle… Je suis tout à fait d’accord avec toi : c’est humiliant de lire certaines traductions. Et, ici, les traductions en français sont celles qui sont presque toujours mal foutues! 🙁

      Il y a plus d’un an j’avais écrit un article (sur mon autre blogue) dans lequel j’avais publié des erreurs relevées dans les tests de français auxquels sont soumis les candidats à des postes bilingues au sein du gouvernement. À l’époque, une de mes étudiantes m’avait envoyé un avis de concours dans lequel on avait traduit “pool of candidates” par «piscine de candidats» (le terme étant »bassin de candidats» en français)!… Imagine la scène : une centaine de personnes dans une piscine attendant d’être repêchées! Voici le lien de cet article:

      http://lynedesroberts.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/a-breath-taking-plunge-into-hades/

      En tout cas, ici, tu rirais souvent (ou alors tu finirais par pleurer)!… 😉

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