Tuesday, 3 October 2017

plenary session or lingua franca

We enjoyed considering the strange but sensical dialect called European Union English, via Miss Cellania, that’s a sort of jargon by committee that arises in international institutions where groups of non-native speakers (and it naturally wouldn’t be only in the working-language of English, and one might wonder if post-Brexit it will still have the same official standing, but similarly coding errors would be propagated through French and German and others as well) develop a highly formalised cant and bend words to their experience.
Using to dispose of to mean to avail oneself for a chance or opportunity or being vexed by the false friends of actual (Aktuell meaning current rather than existing) and eventual (Eventuell being a possibility rather than an eventuality, a foregone conclusion). That last linguistic Flascher Freund, Fauxami leads us into even more interesting territory with examples that don’t mean what one could be forgiven for thinking they do. Whereas in German or Spanish punctuality might be anything related to a particular moment or juncture, punctuality in English only refers to the quality of being at the agreed upon place at the agreed upon time and has that former sense of punctiliousness and periodicity in EU documents—whose turn of phrase appears in translations down the line. Perhaps—if stereotypes are to be believed, Germans are a bit nonplussed at the fact that tardiness is such an epidemic problem that there needs to be a special word to describe the virtue vis-à-vis the vice. We could certainly imagine other scenarios where the existence of an opposite, essential trait would be indeed baffling. Similarly (though no rules of grammar or precedence to suggest otherwise), standard-issue English uses the term opportunity as a synonym for chance rather than conferring the quality of being opportune or timely to a given event. Be sure to review the whole list of odd usage compiled by the supranational body itself at Mental Floss. Has your profession bumped up against the limits of translation only to transcend them? Although these constructed definitions and how they might come across to native speakers as an entertaining and engrossing thing to see unfold, I wonder if those snatches of Latin frozen in legalese struck those outside of the profession as vulgar and amateurish rather than venerable.