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New words and novelties

Barbara McClintock
(Language Update, Volume 8, Number 2, 2011, page 12)

A nonce word for 2010

The New Oxford American Dictionary has chosen Sarah Palin’s refudiate as its 2010 Word of the Year. Since it is a nonce word, refudiate does not merit an entry in the dictionary. A nonce word is made up for one occasion and is not likely to be encountered again.1 Everybody has their own list of top words, including David Letterman, whose top new word for 2010 was palincoherent.

The Word Geek’s 2010 Word of the Year: augmented reality

Although the term augmented reality is believed to have been coined in 1990 by Thomas Caudell, an employee at Boeing, it has become popular in the last few years with the advent of smart phones.2 Augmented reality (réalité amplifiée / augmentée) uses sensors to enhance the viewer’s experience by overlaying information on a transparent background. Download an app called Layar onto your smart phone to provide you with information about a building you point your phone at, such as its history or its price if it is for sale.3 Another example of augmented reality is the head-up or heads-up display (HUD) (affichage tête haute4), a transparent display that projects data in front of a pilot or a driver. Car makers are now bringing out new models with an integrated transparent display in car windshields called enhanced vision technology. Radar and infrared cameras inside and outside the car enhance the driver’s day and night vision by projecting the edge of the road on the screen and highlighting animals and people at the side of the road.

New in 2011

The Accounting Standards Board of Canada has adopted the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) (Normes internationales d’information financière), which will replace Canadian generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for all publicly accountable enterprises (entreprises ayant une obligation publique de rendre des comptes) other than pension plans, effective January 1, 2011.5 The most up-to-date French terminology is found in Part I of the CICA Handbook — Accounting because the Translation Services of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants is in charge of translating the standards.6

The CICA has harmonized its new French terminology with France and Belgium. Audit was the compromise reached by the three countries, replacing vérification (audit), and will be used in all related expressions: procédure d’audit (auditing procedure), risque d’audit (audit risk), auditer (to audit) and auditeur (auditor).

Some of the new French IFRS terminology is confusing, e.g. anomalie, dérogation and écart. In the new terminology, anomaly in English has become exception in French. Anomalie is the new translation for misstatement, replacing inexactitude. The former term écart (in confirmations) has been replaced by divergence (exception in English). Dérogation (in internal control) is now écart (deviation in English). Other changes include revue (review) and significatif (material). Consequently, the English risk of material misstatement is now risque d’anomalies significatives.7

Using the Université de Montréal’s Diatopix 2.1 tool8 to confirm word usage, I searched for audit and auditeur and discovered that these terms are used in all of the main French-speaking countries (Canada, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg), but mainly in France. Google has a similar tool, called the Ngram Viewer. It shows the frequency of use of a term or name in digitized books on a timeline graph. Although fun to use, it currently stops at 2008, so it is of limited value for research on neologisms. In 2008, vérification was used significantly more often than audit in the French-speaking world according to the Ngram Viewer.

AWHFY? (Are we having fun yet?)

Text messaging, texting or short message service (SMS) is a trendy form of communication. FranceTerme proposes minimessage (2004); other equivalents include texto and message texte. I used the really addictive Diatopix 2.1 to compare the geographic distribution of the English terms and their French equivalents. This tool searches in Yahoo! in the main countries where the language is spoken. For English, they are Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The results are very clear: text message is the winner in the English countries and message texte is the winner in the French countries.

Text messaging is short and phonetic and uses many abbreviations. My daughter sent me this text recently: "Merci pour los crêpos. N’oublie pas: carte-cado et vino. Je serai en retard faq, pick me up at Chatô [Châteauguay]." As you can see, we’re a multilingual family!

In France text messaging is creeping into advertising to reach young people: C CHIC is a play both on C’est chic (It’s chic) and the name of Citroën’s C series cars. An ad designed to attract 18-29-year-olds by BNP Paribas has the slogan: TA + K ENTRER (T’as plus qu’à entrer, or you only have to come in).9

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