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Words to say it
Languages are like living things. They evolve, adapt, and constantly create new words or expressions to describe new realities. In France, this natural process is closely monitored by a 375-year-old institution: the "Académie Française."
One of the tasks entrusted to the Academy is to define and validate the words that emerge from the world of research and technology. The "Immortals," as French Academicians are called, also have to make sure that whenever a foreign (most frequently English) expression is adopted, a French equivalent can be coined.
This mission is what brought Academician Marc Fumarolli, along with members of the French Commission of Terminology, to Cadarache and the ITER site last Wednesday. As President of the Commission, Academician Fumarolli wished to get acquainted with a nuclear research facility ... an environment that is among the largest producers of neologisms.
CEA-Cadarache Head of Public Affairs and Communications Guy Brunel, also a member of the sub-commission on Nuclear Engineering Terminology, seized the opportunity to organize a public conference and a round table on specialized communication. On this occasion, Academician Fumarolli stressed the importance of "being precise while remaining understandable by all" and urged scientists and engineers to create new words from their own language rather than adopt English terminology.
After lunch at the Château, the visitors were greeted on the ITER site, where Thierry Brosseron of Agence Iter France gave an overview of the construction process. ITER Head of Communication Neil Calder then presented the scope and overall challenges of the project, emphasising the importance of terminology in the world of fusion science where exotic concepts and phenomena need to be named in order to be explored.
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