blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Reading Pélagie-la-Charette (by Antonine Maillet), the novel mentioned in my blogpost about the Acadians, I'm struggling to follow the dialogue written in historic Arcadian dialect. Not having a French-Acadian dictionary to hand, I just have to guess at the meaning. Here, for example, is a passage I can more or less decipher ...
Je nous accoutumerons, j'avons connu pire dans le passé, et j'en sons sortis [...] Charlécoco, partez chacun de votre bord, l'un au nordet, l'autre au suroît, et me rapportez une paumée d'eau claire. [...] Après le règne des vaches maigres vient cestuy-là des grasses. Ça sera pas dit que je nous quitterons corver entre les deux. Allez, ouste!
... except for the verb "corver" (no idea what that means).

The book sweeps me along all the same, and could be the basis of an epic film if anyone took the trouble to adapt it. But then, what would become of the language?

Another thing I'm spending time on at present is helping Chris prepare for his presentation in German at the ESE conference in Sindelfingen next month. As we read through the documentation I can't help wondering what the Germans themselves make of their language these days, that leans so heavily on English, English technical jargon at that, in this context. Here's part of an introduction to one of the other talks that will be given at the conference (my italics):
Der Teilnehmer erfährt, wie neue Regularien im Energiebereich, Smart Grid, heruntergebrochen und durch technische Features realisiert werden können. Beispiele sind hier auch Smart Meters. Anhand von anschaulichen Use-Cases wird dem Teilnehmer vor Augen geführt, was es bedeutet, Sicherheit in der Fertigung in der Industrie einzuführen und was das Keymanagement in der Realität für Anforderungen an IT und betrieblicher Sicherheit stellt. Der Teilnehmer erhält dadurch Informationen, die ihm die Entscheidung erleichtern, ob und wenn ja welche Teile von Embedded Security als Entwicklungsdienstleistungen besser eingekauft und welche besser in-house aufgebaut werden.
It's hardly German any longer. Do students of German engineering rely on guesswork too?


Alison Hobbs said...

I have just come across somebody else's blogpost on the same subject!

Dave Ferguson said...

Hi, Alison.

I'm glad to see Pélagie making new friends. Your struggle with the language is not unlike her bullying la charrette (and les acadiens) back home despite the obstacles.

My hunch is that corver means to work at a wearying task; at one time I believe a corvée was mandatory labor, and my dictionary defines it as tâche ennuyeuse, pénible ou rebutante imposée à quelqu'un.

Here's a link to an Acadien dictionary posted by the University of Moncton in New Brunswick. I hope you find it helpful.

You're right, of course, that the language is part of what makes the book. It's not the only thing, though; your work at comprehending brings you closer to the story that Maillet tells. If you persist, I think that like me you'l always have Pélagie with you, and Broussard dit Beausoliel as well.

Alison Hobbs said...