Saturday, June 23, 2007

Deformation professionelle

I discovered blogs in spring 2006. More precisely, I discovered food blogs, which I was reading for months on end before realising that there existed blogs about things other than food. Anyway, the very first was Chocolate & Zucchini, which has remained a favourite ever since, for its recipes, its pictures, its design, its sense of purpose, its skillful marketing, and bien sur for the beautiful English of its author, Clotilde Dusoulier.

Last Tuesday, I had a chance to meet Clotidle en personne at the launch of her book at the French Institute in London. When I walked in, I saw the following picture: the publisher with a pile of volumes to sell; the author busy signing her books; technical guys fiddling with microphones; two tables with cakes and other edibles; and lots of rather lost-looking English people who did not quite know what to do. Were they allowed to taste the food? Was it appropriate to talk? Was it possible to talk in English? The worst of all, however, was the completely abandoned, unmanned tables with zucchini carpaccio, and slices of bread, and two savoury cakes, and some cheese biscuits, to which not many people were paying any attention at all.

Being an events organiser, this is a situation in which I cannot stand still: I walked in, went behind the table, and began offering the food and explaining about it. The food was delicious, I was having interesting conversations, and on the whole having wonderful time. 'Thank you so much for organising the event', someone said, assuming I was a part of the crew. 'Oh, not at all. I am just helping out', I replied. 'I am a professional events organiser, you see. ' 'What do you mean?' 'Well, I saw they needed some organisation, and I stepped in. Deformation professionelle.' I have no idea how to say it in English, though. It is such an un-English thing to do.

9 comments:

Fabio M. Said said...

I totally agree with your attitude of stepping in and showing people how to have fun. By the way, we Brazilians have our own version of "deformation professionelle", and it's called "deformação profissional". I personally think it looks and sounds better than its French equivalent. :-)

Baltic Polyglottic said...

Thanks for that bit of Brazilian. Portuguese is on my list of languages I would like to learn, I just cannot decide which version should I start with.

Bettina said...

I couldn´t but look it up in the dictionary! Actually, thereés no translation (you'd have known if there had been, hadn't you?)
This is the example the Collins dictionary gives:

-"Stop asking questions!"
-"I´m a detective. It's a habit you pick up in this job"

Baltic Polyglottic said...

Your example is perfect! It looks like there is no direct English equivalent. I wonder why this is the case. The British must have the concept.

bill said...

Its a pity we dont have a word for it in English. We might recognise it more when it occurs.

Ed said...

Occupational Hazard is sometimes used as an equivalent in English:
"Why did that man keep asking that fashion model about her moles? It's an occupational hazard, he is a dermatologist." Occupational Hazard usually describes dangers from the job towards it's adherents, but it has been adapted to describe how members of a profession behave towards others. Another example is a policeman interrogating his Daughter's boyfriend like he was a criminal.

Blinders (as in those devices put on horses to keep them looking straight ahead )is also used. "Can't he see that she wants to go on a date with him? He spends all day arresting prostitutes, so he has his blinders on."

bill said...

Yes I don't think you have quite got it "occupational hazard". Hazard means Chance - something that happens because you have that job.
"Blinders" Yes better (Incidentally you put blinkers not blinders on a horse ) Blinkered - Unable to see another point of view.Very near.
But deformation( no accents) implies something wrong ,some evil. a distorted twisted viewpoint .A "professional conspiracy " perhaps. Anyway something done to fool or mislead the public .
The French have another expression which they use occasionally " trahison des clercs " contains a similar idea and untranslatable. .Our MPs (perhaps you know about their expenses scandal) seem to be guilty of "deformation professionale" & "trahison des clercs" . But I can't tell them .

bill said...

Yes I don't think you have quite got it "occupational hazard". Hazard means Chance - something that happens because you have that job.
"Blinders" Yes better (Incidentally you put blinkers not blinders on a horse ) Blinkered - Unable to see another point of view.Very near.
But deformation( no accents) implies something wrong ,some evil. a distorted twisted viewpoint .A "professional conspiracy " perhaps. Anyway something done to fool or mislead the public .
The French have another expression which they use occasionally " trahison des clercs " contains a similar idea and untranslatable. .Our MPs (perhaps you know about their expenses scandal) seem to be guilty of "deformation professionale" & "trahison des clercs" . But I can't tell them .

28 March 2010 16:11

Ed said...

trahison des clercs
(1927- )

Term originally used by the French philosopher and novelist JULIEN BENDA (1867-1956) to describe the betrayal of intellectual values by the right wing.

More generally, intellectuals by allying themselves too closely with government, states, or political parties betray the independence which is essential if they are to contribute to public discussion.

Source:
Roger Scruton, A Dictionary of Political Thought (London, 1982)

Thank You for that wonderful tidbit. I need to reread Sir C.P. Snow now.




Blinders, also known as blinkers or winkers,