The CSA (French broadcasting watchdog), which counts among its missions the responsibility for protecting and regulating the use of French on television and radio, has requested that television channels make more of an effort to give their shows French titles. If an English title is used, the CSA recommends an accompanying translation into French.
This is the latest manifestation of a futile ongoing battle against la surabondance de termes anglais ou anglicisés à la télévision et à la radio. In the firing line are a whole host of mostly Endemol-produced reality TV shows with names like ‘Star Academy’, ‘Loft Story’, ‘Popstars’ and ‘Fear factor’.
An amusing article in Libération points out that the literal translation of “Loft Story’ would give us the following catchy title: ‘Loft Story: Une histoire de local a usage commercial ou industriel amenage en local d’habitation’.
Probably not. The CSA is not actually planning to use its power to sanction TV production companies who do not toe the line. TF1 have already made a statement to the effect that Star Academy, the show responsible for inflicting Jennifer and Nolwenn on the French pop music scene, will not undergo a name change.
The CSA is worried that the use of English words in TV programme titles devalues French language and culture, making programmes with French titles seem inferior or old-fashioned in comparison.
Personally, I can’t help thinking that the CSA is missing the point. Perhaps more attention needs to be paid to the quality of French TV production itself, and not simply the language of titles. Why are so many shows and reality TV formats being imported, I wonder? Could it possibly be *whispers* that home-grown productions are actually Not Very Good?
Some comments there:
I always found it so strange that so much of French television was dubbed (usually from English, but sometimes from German - I would wonder why this show didn’t look familiar until the credits rolled and they were all named Helmut or something). Why don’t they make anything of their own? Actually, I’ve seen Sous le Soleil or whatever it is, so maybe it’s best if they stick with imports.kim:
I agree though that french programming is just pathetic. There is some series that was on M6 recently called something like “Thom et Léo, flics et jumeaux.” Not only is the premise incredibly stupid, but they couldn’t even be bothered to find a title that could possibly intrigue people to watch it!Gamera:
With my bilingual friends we used to make up a game where you would try to guess how the French or the Italians would have translated/massacred that movie title. Sometimes we’ve got hillarious title names that had no connection whatsover with the original title. But the scarriest thing was to go back to France and realise that they have been using titles that are even more ridiculous. Same goes for all the dozens of English titles one Japanese or Chinese film can have.Ribby:
But all in all dubbing, outside of Holand and Scandinavia, is an economical necessity as it is the way local French, German, Italian, etc.. actors make most of their money. UK actors already have it tough unless they leave to the US like Minnie Driver and her sis did. Imagine what it is for German or French actors who are maybe offered one good role in one good film every 5 years. Most of the time they have to do voice over jobs, some can survive by doing theater, and a lot get only jobs for those god awful French or German TV-Dramas.
So without dubbing, there would be no jobs for European actors. They would be like their peers in Blighty forced to immigrate to Hollowood. Except that have you ever heard a French actor speaking English? OUCH!
As for anglicismes. In some fields like marketing or IT the French or the Germans love them, except that these are words which just don’t mean squat in English. So I’m having a very very tough time re-adapting to French professional life and trying to not offend them by pretending to ignore their crap anglicism fade and their god awfull English. I did work for the European Space Agency and Eumetsat. Now, I’m not a yank/brit making fun of the French, I ‘m a European (French) comparing France with the rest of Europe and realising that there is a huge widening gap between France and the rest of Europe (the political and executive Europe). And one of these days France will just be way behind everyone else in Europe that it will have to split away from it to survive unless it adapts.
In the year and a half that I’ve been here, I’ve come to realise that the majority of homegrown French TV is rubbish.