How do I translate "print is dead" into French?
March 24, 2004 11:41 PM   Subscribe

Lost in Translation:
I'm doing a bit of site redesign, and wanted to make sure that 'copie est mort' is a good French translation of the old MacLuhan adage "Print is Dead." Anyone able to say with more certainty than I? and feel free to share any thoughts on the design itself. other than validation-related stuff, which i'm going to focus on once I have things up and running.
posted by kaibutsu to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
I'm not sure if that's the best way to say it, but I do know that it would be more gramatically correct to say: "la copie, c'est mort." This is because, in a sentence like that, the noun needs to be prefaced with "the" (la) to indicate that you're talking about "copie" writ large, rather than "some" (de la) print.

I'm just not sure about your choice of noun, and my French isn't deep enough to suggest an alternative with confidence.
posted by stonerose at 6:33 AM on March 25, 2004

grammatically. sigh.
posted by stonerose at 6:34 AM on March 25, 2004

I've not been able to find any reference to McLuhan writing 'Print is Dead', at least not in so few words. In a 1969 Playboy interview, he claimed, rather less succinctly:
The age of print, which held sway from approximately 1500 to 1900, had its obituary tapped out by the telegraph, the first of the new electric media, and further obsequies were registered by the perception of "curved space" and non-Euclidean mathematics in the early years of the century, which revived tribal man's discontinuous time-space concepts -- and which even Spengler dimly perceived as the death knell of Western literate values.
Which is rendered thus, in French (source here):
L’âge de l’impression, qui a prédominé approximativement de 1500 à 1900, dont la mort a été annoncée lors de l’apparition du télégraphe, le premier des média électrique, a reçu de nouvelles obsèques, célébrées au début de notre siècle par la perception de " la courbure de l’espace " et la mathématique non Euclidienne ; deux idées qui ravivèrent les concepts de l’espace- temps discontinus de la société tribale --et que même Spengler a vaguement perçu comme le son du glas des valeurs littéraires occidentales.
posted by misteraitch at 6:40 AM on March 25, 2004

I'm not sure he said it either, but in any case what you've got now says "[Some guy named] Copy is dead." 'Print' in the sense you intend is impression, but the problem is that it has other meanings (like 'impression'), so by itself L'impression est morte wouldn't convey the desired meaning. You'd have to go into a whole periphrasis that would lose the oomph. Can I ask why you don't just go with "Print is dead"?
posted by languagehat at 11:47 AM on March 25, 2004

Yeah, I think I'll just stick with the ingles.

(and do some research on the origin of the phrase. May have been I was watching a lot of ghostbusters way back when I was taking the media analysis class, and got a couple of lines crossed.)

(Interestingly, one absolutely clear utterer of the phrase, Egon Spengler, from Ghostbusters shares a last name with the man cited in misteraitch's McLuhan citation. Curious.)

posted by kaibutsu at 7:04 PM on March 25, 2004

As long as you're soliciting armchair design advice, I'd note that the white of the "Copie" can get lost against the white of the background logo. Nifty otherwise though; I always liked the fixed background effect.
posted by gsteff at 1:13 AM on March 26, 2004

Might I suggest some padding or changing the DIV widths (I think those are the fancy CSS solutions) - or something like blockquote tags around your text? In Firefox on Windows XP, your text goes to the *very edge* of the white text box - making it rather hard to read.
Actually it looks like there are a few layout quirks in Firefox - if you care about non-IE browsers.
posted by sixdifferentways at 10:56 PM on March 26, 2004

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