Monday smile – Translating academic-speak into business-ese

Strictly speaking, today’s Monday smile is deadly serious. I just find rather whimsical the idea of it being necessary to “translate” in order to enable these two worlds to communicate.* However, as many of us know, business and academia do speak different languages.

jargonA research project being carried out in Paris has recently been reported in the press. Students from the linguistic engineering department at the University of Paris 13 have developed, using corpus techniques, a search engine to bring together the corporate world and universities.

It is described as a French-French translator, transposing academic terminology into corporate language, and is designed to allow recruiters at companies to identify suitable candidates, despite the fact that academic course descriptions may not contain the keywords that professionals would use.

Here’s a taster from RTL: a municipality is looking for someone to manage refuse (aka rubbish or waste) and is unlikely to know that students of “sociological diagnostics”  would fit the bill.

This article from Le Figaro calls it a “satnav for training”. You can also listen here to a brief presentation by the radio station RTL.

For an interesting viewpoint on jargon, in business and academia, including its advantages, see this article, dated 1996 but no less valid today, from the Times Higher Education supplement.


*  It seems I’m not the only one – the researchers themselves named their project I-def(x),  which French speakers will no doubt recognise as the determined little dog from Asterix known in English as Dogmatix.


hand gesture body languageYou might also be interested in this post on business-ese, or a tool for readability scoring, or this video riffing on marketing-speak. If you’re really into the subject just type “jargon”  into the search box on the right!

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