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French Medical Language Revisited

How delightful to return after ten years, if only for three weeks, to the mad world of French medical language. Here are a few snippets:

L'équipe soignante suscite un système de relations (i.e. 'the nurses want the patients to have company' or now 'to form networks').

Ils subissent une situation particulièrement contraignante o ils doivent mobiliser des mécanismes de défense. ('When faced with a particularly frustrating situation, the patients' defence mechanisms have to come into play!)

Le fait même de cette création, la spécificité de la pédiatrie dans ce cadre, et la cooptation réciproque des premiers membres de cette équipe ont favorisé le développement rapide d'une idéologie soignante commune, destinée, au moyen d' un travail d'équipe, à une meilleure maitrise de la situation ci-dessus définie. ('The team has had to work out a common approach and procedures to control this situation, drawing on their technical resources and special paediatric skills, and also recruiting additional staff.')

Cette approche prend une dimension particulière. ('We had to adopt a particular approach.')

Finally, an extract from the English translation of the abstract: 'In a Service of Pediatric Oncology, after studying what does the patients and their families need, it is possible to set up an organisation of adapted cares.' (sic)

This, at one remove, is the crazy world of Barthes, Baudrillard and Bourdieu, not to mention Foucault, Greimas, Kristeva and Derrida, transferred to the other world of medical literature. Then there 'arrived' André Gorz, who writes plain French, plain language. How long will he last?


Peter Newmark (1993) Paragraphs on Translation, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, p. 34.