EDF : Jumbling languages
Careless control allows mixed messages.
EDF, the France-based energy utility, has an ‘open border’ approach to the editing of its online sustainable development report.
EDF’s sustainable development report sits on its own minisite which, like the main .com site, has parallel French- and English-language versions that can be switched between from and for any page. However, several pieces of page furniture remain in French whichever version is open; for example, développement durable is the title in the masthead on all pages; the utilities include plan du site; the breadcrumb trail begins with accueil; and a permanent feature in the left-hand navigation is développement durable repères (sustainable development landmarks).
In the English-language content itself there are instances where phrases and even paragraphs remain in French.
EDF has an admirably user-friendly language-switching facility, allowing alternate views of the same page rather than, as is common, defaulting to the home page when the switch is clicked. But only the Académie Française, the guardian of the French language against creeping anglicisation, is likely to find anything to smile about in the cavalier mixing of French with English.
If it were confined to major items of page furniture such as the masthead it might be excusable on the grounds that many English-speaking companies happily do the same thing with their corporate slogans. But the main site seems to have no problem switching to ‘sustainable development’ for its English pages, while more minor items such as plan du site just look like an oversight in among other, translated links. And leaving a word such as repères, which will be unfamiliar to English speakers even with a good basic grasp of French, defeats the purpose of a featured-content heading; rogue paragraphs are plain careless. Rather than give the impression of treating sustainable translation with a Gallic shrug, EDF’s web editors need to say non to such laxity in content management.http://www.edf.com
First published on 12 February, 2009