Saturday, November 24, 2007
Procrastination in French
I've often wondered myself, since procrastination is something that has often come up in my conversations over the years. I've put off, until now, doing any serious research because:
- I practice procrastination
- I've arrogantly assumed that if there were a French term I'd have learned it by now, and
- I just give a summary definition if necessary (to francophones to whom I'm speaking but who don't seem to understand the term).
- Procrastination: Remise au lendemain, temporisation.
- Procrastinate: Remettre au lendemain, atermoyer, temporiser, lanterner (fam.).
- Procrastinator: Temporisateur, lanterne.
"Atermoyer/atermoiement" is an interesting candidate. But it is not quite right for two reasons:
- it has to do with two parties negotiating a delay to a due date (for a payment), whereas procrastination is usually one party deciding alone.
- it has to do with the due date, whereas the procrastinator's attention is more on the start date, or how much effort to invest and when.
Curious why I skipped "lanterner" and "lanterne" in this context? I haven't encountered them (that I recall, and I think I tend to notice words) in the past couple of decades so I doubt that enough people would understand them to make them viable "quick win" candidates. But I reserve judgement ("j'ajourne cette question"). And I'll investigate as priorities allow.
The CNRS's semantic dictionary proposes two other terms:
In an interesting twist, the Office québécois de la langue française (who write "arrêt" instead of "stop" on their octagonal red stop signs) claim the français for procrastination is "procrastination n.f." In other words, the académie française du Canada has admitted the word procrastination as a femine noun. More water to my mill, as we say: they didn't find another word fit to mean procrastination in French.
For reasons I hope to elucidate, "procrastination", which sounds (like organisation, industrialisation) like a word that would be shared among European (Latinate) languages is thus far absent from French. The Québécois francophones have admitted it. I believe that many other francophones understand it. However, if you are not sure of your audience or readership, I suggest you stick to the heavier-handed use of a phrase instead of a single equivalent word:
- procrastinate : remettre à plus tard / remettre au lendemain
- procrastination : remises à plus tard / remise au lendemain
- procrastinator: gestionnaire des priorités / manager afuté de l'emploi des ressources disponibles
I've tried to provide the content some searchengine users supposed I already had, but I'm open to suggestions for "procrastinator" in French...
If I haven't helped you find the word or phrase you want, I'm sorry (but it didn't cost you much, I hope). If you think I'm close, have questions or suggestions you would like to share, please feel free to add your comment.
Note: for "procrastinator", one may consider "branleur, -euse", although it presumes the procrastinator (the "actor"?) is choosing other, more idle, use of her time and "effort", when in fact the procrastinator is probably just chosing any other activity as long as she can tell others that is what she has been doing, and it is arguably not a waste of time...
Identificateurs Technorati : procrastination, French, procrastinate, translation, traduction, dictionnaire, dictionary, LibraryThing
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I agree it does not cover the entire meaning but ... Attermoyeur non plus :-)
Votre anglais (écrit) est superbe par ailleurs.
Pasteur à Angers