Saturday, June 9, 2007

High-technic's sign

In the category of pseudo-English words and punctuation used in France, this is one of my favorites. It's a sign for an industrial cleaning firm in the nearby village of St-Jean-en-Royans. The French word propreté means "cleanliness". I know nothing about the firm, but I would guess that the owner has purchased one of those huge cube-shaped floor-scrubbing machines on wheels, with revolving brushes, that you often see in supermarkets. This top-notch cleaning equipment was probably made in the USA (because I'm not familiar with any French manufacturers in this field), and the fellow surely paid a lot of money for it. So, he wanted to find a name for his firm that evokes the idea of high-tech cleaning. Knowing that a French word such as clinique becomes "clinic" in English, he imagined that technique becomes "technic". And, in case any ignorant French customers didn't know that "technic" is supposed to be English, the owner has thrown in a meaningless apostrophe-s for good measure.

To complicate matters, it's a fact that, if the owner of the French firm consulted an American dictionary (as he surely did), he would indeed find the nouns "technic" and "technics". But writers of good English would not normally apply these highbrow terms to the field of scrubbing floors in offices and factories.

Incidentally, there's an error in the French. Can you find it?


  1. This sign is great!
    Error in French: "tout types".

  2. Yes. The third line indicates that the Technic's Propreté business can clean (treat) all kinds of floors. As in English, you can say "every type of floor" (tout type de sols) or "all types of floors" (tous types de sols), but it's an error to write tout types. It's funny that the signwriting firm (well known in our region) let this error slip by.