No 'fiber truck' here, we are in France

A mayor has banned from his commune a van publicising fibre-optic internet as long as Orange keeps referring to the vehicle with the English word ‘truck’ instead of camion.

Published Last updated

The mayor, Mickaël Vallet, has written to telecoms firm Orange saying he does not object to them publicising the internet service but he dislikes the anglicised name of their ‘fiber trucks’.

The van may not park in his commune - Marennes-Hiers-Brouage, Charente-Maritime - while it has this name, he told the firm.

He told Connexion: “I think it is idiotic that a company, set up originally by the state should replace an existing word that everyone understands by an English word, purely under the pretext that because it is in English it will appear serious, and purely in the interests of advertising.

“It is an aggression against the citizen. I wanted to send a strong and symbolic message and all I want Orange to do is change the name.”

He has also tweeted about his anger that La Poste recently named its new online, mobile bank account bank Ma French Bank.

He said: “I will go away on week-end, eat a hamburger and stop at a Stop. I have no problem with that. They are words that have been incorporated into our language. But when there are words which exist and we replace them by others, because we are taken in by the neoliberals and advertisers from Paris that is not acceptable.

“We need to use words that everyone understands. Not everyone in my commune has come across the word 'truck' before.”

Mr Vallet said the use of English words alone in advertising is illegal - under the Toubon Law 1994 any foreign word used in commercial communications must be accompanied by a French translation.

Though he accepts that languages are always made up from a mix of cultures, he does not think new words should be added by commercial corporations.

“Using English words to replace French ones is the easy way out. The word Linky for the new electricity counter using the English for the word lien is rubbish. It shows a complete lack of creativity.

“Renault which owes everything to the State runs ‘Renault days’. Where is the intelligence, respect and the creativity in that?”

Mr Vallet wrote his letter to Orange on the day before the Festival des cultures francophones, which has been held in in Marennes for ten years.

The commune is known especially for its Marennes oysters and this year joined up with neighbouring Hiers-Brouage, which includes medieval walled village Brouage, labelled one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France.

In his letter Mr Vallet said they have visitors from all over the world, they respect and enjoy people’s different languages and each one should be preserved and its individual richness respected.

“In your country you do not need to have a Festival des cultures anglophones because your language is not under threat,” he said.

"But French and many other languages are becoming impoverished and we need to fight against that, above all when the language is being degraded by huge corporations solely to increase sales.”

He says to defend your own language is not to be nationalistic: “The love of your own language does not prevent you loving other languages too.”

Connexion has not seen the actual use of the word 'truck' in images of the vehicles or on Orange's website, however we understand the expression was used by Orange in communication with mairies.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France