Thursday, May 11, 2006

Spam: the French don't have a word for it

I received my first spam e-mail wholly in French. Diappointingly it wasn't for a classy French pr0n site, just a variant on the Nigerian 419 scam. I don't think this money belonged to a dictator but my French isn't up to establish just why they can't shift this 12m USD out of the Philippines.

Anyway, I was piqued into discovering the French word for spam. As you probably know the French are obsessive about the purity of their language. One of the tasks of L'Academie francaise is to invent French words to replace les anglicismes. For instance a Walkman is un balladeur . Obviously the L'Academie Francaise has been swamped by new technological terms, because an MP3 player is un balladeur MP3. And spam is just le spam. Not even le pate, although la patee might be more appropriate.


Anonymous Francois said...

I am French and I do not understand the reason why they need to have a French word for any words. most "French" words come from Latin, Greek and Normand. Many of them are English, and it is cool.
I think that the real reason it that these guys (Academie française) wont loose their job...

11 May 2006 at 06:20:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Grant Ronald said...

We shouldn't trust these French and their language. As George W. Bush once said "The problem with the French is, they don’t have a word for ‘entrepreneur’" ;o)

11 May 2006 at 07:38:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Didier said...

I think that L'Académie Française agreed on the word "pourriel".
That's a combination of the words "POUbelle" (dustbin) and "couRRIEL" (email).

Personally, I agree with François.
It's the first time (and probably the last time) I use the word "POURRIEL"

11 May 2006 at 07:54:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Francois said...

Yes, I have to agree that, sometimes, Mr Bush is right ;o)

But, seriously, the "mission" of the Academie Française was to don't loose the commercial battle by offering French words for each English one. One could say if this battle was won or lost...

11 May 2006 at 08:15:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Pierre said...

For "spam" we would use "polluriel" which is a combination of "POLLUtion" and "courRIEL", which in turn are french equivalent of pollution and e-mail. "Junk e-mail" would be translated into "pourriel", which combines "POUbelle (trashcan)" and "couRRIEL (e-mail)."
And yes, those people are hard working at keeping their jobs.
For futher references look for "Office québécois de la langue française at .

11 May 2006 at 08:16:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Francois said...

This could be a starting point of a great discussion about the necessity of different languages.
I think there are about 700 different languages spoken all around the world, and I think also that there are 699 bad reasons why things go so slowly...

11 May 2006 at 08:29:00 GMT-7  
Blogger APC said...

So it turns out that the French actually have two words for spam: pourriel and polluriel. Interesting that none of the online dictionaries I tried had either of these words but the French Wikipedia had them both:

Strike one for the Wiki-istas!

As for the the need for languages, I think the difference between spam and pourriel says it all. Spam is short and brutish, in fact, just like most junk e-mail. Whereas pourriel sounds like the sort of endearment that Marcel Wave might have used ...

11 May 2006 at 09:34:00 GMT-7  
Blogger Laurent Schneider said...

I am not french and I am never going to say "un courriel". If I have to speak to my grand-
parents, which are celebrating their "noces de palissandre" tomorrow, I would simply say "un message électronique", but not that kind of "email" substitute...

So maybe we should talk about PEVE (porc et viande épicés / Spicy Pork And Meat) ?

11 May 2006 at 12:44:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Francois said...

Correction : the total amount of different spoken languages on our lovely Earth is not 700 but about 6700 !

11 May 2006 at 13:03:00 GMT-7  
Blogger Laurent Schneider said...

> the total amount of different spoken
> languages on our lovely Earth is not 700
> but about 6700 !
of course!

By the way, SPAM is not a word, the formal designation, in both english and french, is unsolicited mail (courrier non-solicité), is not it?

12 May 2006 at 04:28:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Francois said...

Anyway, even if the academicians invent new bizarre words to replace existing good one, we'll never use them !
so, this is a real non-problem ;o)

12 May 2006 at 04:36:00 GMT-7  
Blogger Laurent Schneider said...

ok, but the academician do not invent bizzarre world, I cannot believe the af will ever use the words pourriel or courriel, this is rather used in the press and television.

and a balladeur (walkman) and butineur (browser !!!) are not new words.

12 May 2006 at 22:45:00 GMT-7  
Blogger Laurent Schneider said...

not to forget my favorite one :
effeuillage (strip-tease)

12 May 2006 at 22:47:00 GMT-7  
Blogger Laurent Schneider said...

this site you will like

the podcast is translated as "diffusion pour balladeur"


12 June 2006 at 00:39:00 GMT-7  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



11 October 2008 at 09:43:00 GMT-7  

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