Faux Amis

BEWARE THOSE FAUX AMIS (WORDS THAT LOOK ALIKE IN TWO LANGUAGES BUT HAVE DIFFERENT MEANINGS, SOMETIMES DANGEROUSLY SO) AND INACCURATE TRANSLATIONS! You’re the Chief Information Officer of the French branch of a sprawling multinational, and you’ve been told to upgrade the entire system. Everything. The Works. There are hundreds of thousands of euros to be spent on software, hardware, related staff training and, in conjunction with the Marketing Department, a glossy communication campaign to let the universe know how ultra-wired you are. With almost puerile excitement you grab the phone, call the most renowned supplier in the world and are transferred to an eager young French sales-rep delighted at the opportunity to practice his English. You explain what you’re after. The young man says he’s thrilled to help but his own system is out today. Could you call back tomorrow, he asks, when he’ll hopefully have access to the documents he needs for his pitch. You call the next day. “The…
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Why are the European election panels empty of posters?

The European Election is the second biggest election in the world in terms of number of voters, only India has more. The objective is to elect the 751 members of the European parliament, thus it concerns 28 countries. There are 2686 candidates in France alone. Each list from all of the 34 parties presenting candidates must have 79 members alternating strictly between men and women. The lists are organized vertically following their leader. This is a proportional election, so according to the percentage of the vote won by the party the first X candidates of the list will go to parliament. In France a party must have at least 5% in order to win any seats; other countries do not have minimums or have lower minimum percentages. The French lists are required to have 79 members each just in case one list sweeps the vote and thus wins all of France seats (hard to imagine!). There is a complication (not just one) this year stemming from the Brexit. France currently has 75 seats, bu…

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