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The use of non-English words (like "en masse")
Thread poster: Ali M. Alsaqqa

Ali M. Alsaqqa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:39
English to Arabic
Aug 31, 2011

Hi,

I was reading a technology blog article where I encountered this sentence:

"IT administrators can deploy Chrome Web Store apps to users en masse by setting up rganizational policies for Chrome."

"en masse" is originally a French word, it means "in a single body or group" (Wikipedia).

My questions: Is the use of such words considered formal or informal?

I know that many everyday English words are derived from other languages (e.g. Latin) but this one clearly appears not English-like (because of the term "en"), so I thought this might make things different...

[Edited at 2011-08-31 21:39 GMT]


 

TargamaT team  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 22:39
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
"en masse"=in large amounts, all together Aug 31, 2011

Hi Ali,

It is in the formal language, cf. par ex.:

http://www.oxfordadvancedlearnersdictionary.com/dictionary/en-masse

in use:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14346325


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 13:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
More formal Aug 31, 2011

En masse is used in fairly formal, often written, language and most likely by relatively well-educated people who know what it means and when to use it. It is not a word that is used a lot in everyday spoken language.

Examples: notify users en masse, the directors resigned en masse, the people protested en masse, etc.


 

Ali M. Alsaqqa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:39
English to Arabic
TOPIC STARTER
All of them? Aug 31, 2011

Thanks Dr. Oussama, I guess this includes all such non-English words, not just "en messe", right ?

(Of course, I could consult the dictionary for any specific word)


 

Ali M. Alsaqqa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:39
English to Arabic
TOPIC STARTER
True, and... Aug 31, 2011

Tina Vonhof wrote:

En masse is used in fairly formal, often written, language and most likely by relatively well-educated people who know what it means and when to use it. It is not a word that is used a lot in everyday spoken language.

Examples: notify users en masse, the directors resigned en masse, the people protested en masse, etc.


And the evidence is that firefox's dictionary (which is not a comprehensive one) does not recognize it, which means it is "too formal."

Thanks you!

[Edited at 2011-08-31 22:11 GMT]


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:39
Chinese to English
Foreign words in English Sep 1, 2011

I was given a tip which I try to follow to this day: don't use foreign words or phrases (like en masse, en route, hacienda, veldt, etc. etc.) in translations. In my pair, particularly, many translation users are not English natives. They won't necessarily know these (often) slightly specialised terms. So I would say you need to be able to recognise and understand commonly-used foreign phrases, but there's no need to be able to use them yourself.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:39
English to Croatian
+ ...
A few points Sep 1, 2011

Copywriters will use them to "decorate" a copy, to avoid repetition, or to sound more formal. Good point about not using them in translations, though, which Phil just said.

On the other hand, in the today's world of the web, repetitions are encouraged for SEO purposes. Texts with a large number of repetitions used to be considered very poor, from stylistic point of view.


 

Paul Carmichael  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:39
Spanish to English
Disagree Sep 1, 2011

Tina Vonhof wrote:

En masse is used in fairly formal, often written, language and most likely by relatively well-educated people who know what it means and when to use it. It is not a word that is used a lot in everyday spoken language.



As a native English speaker, I would disagree with that assertion.

En masse, en route etc. are used very much in general, including in colloquial speach.

Words like rendevous are a little less common because the verb "meet" is shorter and identical in perceived meaning.


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:39
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Par excellence ... Sep 1, 2011

An apposite topic for me.
I was recently confronted by both "volte face" and "par excellence" and thought long and hard about whether to try translating them into English or to leave them in French as expressions in common use in the UK. I suppose such phrases were adopted into English because there didn't seem to be a way of expressing the meaning quite as precisely as the original French ... maybe.
In the end I decided to leave them in French because the text was an address to a conference of experts and I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the target audience would be as familiar with those originally French expressions as I am. Should I have translated them? (I've received no objection from the client - so far).
Jenny (aka Puzzled of Penzance).


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:39
Chinese to English
English versions Sep 1, 2011

I reckon you can put those into English: u-turn and epitome; about face and the very model of; 180 degree turn and apotheosis; reversed herself and a perfect example of;...

And for my pair I would put them into English. But it sounds like you considered your audience, made an informed decision - and apparently made the right decision. That's pretty good practice, too!


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:39
Hebrew to English
Depends Sep 1, 2011

I agree with Phil that considerations of audience, genre and register etc should play a part when considering whether to translate these words and phrases or not.

I disagree that all of them are highly formal, some of the more ubiquitous examples do find their way into colloquial usage...

"en route" for example, can be heard as well as read. However, many English (less educated) English people think they are saying "ON route". So this could explain the increased frequency of this phrase - people don't realise they are speaking French!

In addition, if you litter your spoken language with French or Latin phrases you just sound pretentious at best and ridiculous at worst.

So this is a good argument for keeping them confined to more formal, written English.
Although I am a bit of a purist and I loved Phil's English alternatives. I do not see the point of using foreign terms when English ones DO exist.

In translation, the propositional meaning of these words/phrases is (usually) identical to their English counterparts, the only differences might be in their expressive, pre-suppositional and evoked meanings. Therefore, translating them could be based on considerations of maintaining expressive or evoked meanings. (and taking into account other constraints etc).


 

Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:39
Italian to English
In common use Sep 1, 2011

I am happy to use occasional foreign expressions such as "en masse", "en route", "par excellence" etc. if I feel they're in common use in everyday English. I hear people using these expressions all the time (particularly "en route"), even in informal speech. They also appear regularly in newspaper articles, etc. in the UK. Many words of this type are included in the Oxford English Dictionary, so I feel they have been fully absorbed into the English language.

Obviously, in the case of rather more obscure expressions, which aren't in common use, I will think of an alternative version in English.

As in all translations, the important thing is to consider the readership of the text and make an informed decision on what type of language to use.

[Edited at 2011-09-01 10:46 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Common or jardin Sep 1, 2011

Sonia Atkinson wrote:

I am happy to use occasional foreign expressions such as "en masse"... They also appear regularly in newspaper articles, etc. in the UK. Many words of this type are included in the Oxford English Dictionary, so I feel they have been fully absorbed into the English language.



As in all translations, the important thing is to consider the readership of the text and make an informed decision on what type of language to use.

[Edited at 2011-09-01 10:46 GMT]


I heartily agree. When English struggles to express something, we have a saying "the french have a word for it". As most of our culture, from cooked meals and cutlery to the legal system, comes from French, why should we baulk at things like en route/ en masse/ je ne sais quoi... etc. We can always use italics if need be.

The current widely trumpeted dislike of all thing French (e.g: "freedom fries" and the perpetration of the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" stereotype) is mainly a US phenomenon, or anglocentric xenophobia. A a Scot and native English speaker, I can assure you that the Auld Alliance is still alive and well north of the border.

[Edited at 2011-09-01 11:21 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Plus ca change Sep 1, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:

Texts with a large number of repetitions used to be considered very poor, from stylistic point of view.



I'm afraid I must take issue with "used to be". Mind-numbing repetition still stultifies to this day.

When translating from Spanish, their constant repetition and seemingly endless sentences and haphazard punctuation, apparently less frowned upon there, often drive me up the wall, and I know that many colleagues agree.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Creme de la creme Sep 1, 2011

Ty Kendall wrote:
In addition, if you litter your spoken language with French or Latin phrases you just sound pretentious at best and ridiculous at worst.


Yes, my friends and I do it quite often, tongue in cheek, although some of us more than others. At least we are aware of what we are doing...

To misquote The Simpsons, I think a bit of French embiggens the lingo.

[Edited at 2011-09-01 11:23 GMT]


 
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