Friday’s French – Globalisation, mondialisation, global, overall

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

There is a perfectly good word for “globalization”in French – mondialisation which comes from monde meaning “world” – but they seem to be set on using globalisation instead.

approche_globale_personnes_ageesIn English, global is mainly used in the sense of worldwide, particularly in economic fields, in which case it is usually rendered by mondial in French:

on a global scale: à l’échelle mondiale 

global capitalism: le capitalisme mondiale

There is one important exception: global warming is réchauffement de la planète.

In French, however, global has many different meanings, all revolving around the idea of total, comprehensive, overall.

Ils pratiquent un prix global: they have an all-inclusive price

Ils proposent une offre globale : they offer a package

Il faut adopter une approche globale à la question: a comprehensive approach to the issue is needed

La stratégie globale concerne toute l’entreprise: The corporate strategy concerns the entire company.

You can of course have a global strategy in English which corresponds to a stratégie mondiale in French.

When my children were small, there was considerable debate in France about using the méthode globale de lecture corresponding to the word recognition method to teach reading, which is perfectly logical in English where many of the basic words follow no set pattern in terms of spelling and pronunciation: were, where, once, their, there, etc. In French, however, although there are exceptions, most words are pronounced according to syllabic rules which makes the word recognition method a very slow and confusing way of learning to read. I understand that it has been dropped in favour of the méthode syllabique.

Enough digression

Globalement means overall/on the whole, and not globally.

Je suis globalement contente du résultat: On the whole, I’m happy with the result

Globalement nous sommes tous d’accord: On the whole we agree

Globalement, nos ventes ont augmenté: Our overall sales have gone up.

Je dirais que globalement c’est la même chose: I would say that, all in all, it’s the same thing

And the much-used “holistic” in English today can also be rendered by globalement:

Il faut traiter le problème globalement – A holistic approach to the problem is needed.

Holistique does exist but I’ve only ever heard it used in a therapeutic context:

Les thérapies holistiques sont souvent fondées sur des connaissances empiriques et des enseignements traditionnels de la naturopathie : Holistic therapies are often based on the naturopath’s empirical knowledge and traditional teachings.

Back to my initial comment on globalisation. The sentence I heard recently on France Info (my favourite radio station because it keeps repeating the same news all day which means I can listen to it while I’m cooking without having to concentrate), was:

La globalisation des constructeurs a poussé les équipementiers à se restructurer : The globalisation of car manufacturers has forced car parts manufacturers to restructure.

I really don’t see why they can’t say “La mondialisation des constructeurs a poussé les équipementiers à se restructurer”. It’s just a simple. But then, I’m not French !

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
This entry was posted in French language and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Friday’s French – Globalisation, mondialisation, global, overall

  1. This is a very good explanation of some false friends.

  2. French can be quite peculiar at times. I was brought up with the version spoken here in Canada, though I’ve let myself get rather rusty.

  3. Do you find anglicismes corrupting understanding. I work with French people in Australia and I would argue they way they use “bad” english as French makes their actual English worse.

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      I would say it was gallicisms that is interfering with the English of the French people you work with in Australia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *