We all know that the French are "arrogant cheese eating surrender monkeys".
Since they do not speak English, one should not take any interest in their language - compared with the internationally reknown complexity of the English language, le français is a kind of proto-logos similar to the weird music you can hear at the so-called "world" section of your local retail shop, right?
This seems to be the attitude adopted by the editors of the latest issue of the Irish Mountain Log who managed the impressive achievement of placing 3 different spelling of the same French name, Fontainebleau, within a square inch of paper! (page 42 of the Winter 2007 edition).
Fair dues to them, this must be a record.
Admittedly, misspelling foreign names is not an issue in English speaking press, but we're talking expertise here: this is a climbing magazine, featuring an article on the world most famous bouldering spot.
Unless maybe it is unfair to claim that Fontainebleau is more famous than Fairy Head, Glendolugh or the Peek district (annoying isn't it ?).
After all, only a couple of thousand people climb in Font every weekend - probably a little more if you include the Cuvier...
Still, such a clear lack of effort could lead to a very tricky diplomatic situation.
You see, Fontainebleau is owned by the French, a concept that is alien to all these people who are still the subjects of such a great ruler as Her Majesty the Queen of England, Canada, Australia, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and so forth... And known to the French as la Reine des Rosbifs (much shorter, see!)
The French could therefore well decide to forbid the access to all non-french speakers. I can already hear them: "You don't frighten us, English pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you!"
So the following are a few tips for editors of English speaking climbing press and online media platforms (although it seems that it would also be very useful to the editors of English speaking newspapers too):
- French accents are like garlic, you only need a hint, not the whole bleeding bulb! Adding accents everywhere does not make it look more French. It just kills flavour.
- Get yourself a computer with an Internet connection: this 21st century technological tool will give you access to an activity widely known today as surfing the web (ask your kids for help) and guess what? Computers and the Internet are equipped with smart French spelling tools!
- If you decide to misspell, at least be consistent. Your English readers will undoubtedly forgive your lack of interest, but it is much harder to forgive your lack of common sense.