Dictionary Corner: Savoir-faire

Every now and then a telecom press release will make us smile instead of grimace. Today was one of those occasions, but the smile was one of delightful confusion. And here's why, courtesy of Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA)...

"Nextenso, Alcatel's Internet software subsidiary, will deliver its localization platform to Bouygues Telecom, targeting their enterprise market. With this technological savoir-faire, enterprises will be able to interface their core business applications with location-based information."

With this technological quoi? As "savoir-faire" is "the ability to say or do the right or graceful thing," it might just be that something has got lost in the translation. Or maybe Alcatel really believes interfacing some core apps with location-based info can be a truly tactful corporate exercise.

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung www.unstrung.com
jarod- 12/4/2012 | 9:20:58 PM
re: Dictionary Corner: Savoir-faire It seems someone at Alcatel forgot to translate litteraly the "savoir-faire" into "know-how"... and that "savoir-faire" is a real "faux-ami" as far as the English language is concerned :-)

Let me try to translate (and forgive me for all mistakes, please) :
"savoir-faire : A person's capacity to achieve what she undertakes, to solve practical problems, because of her competence and experience.
In the commercial area, "know-how" (in french in the text) applies to the knowledges, experiments, processes (...) which are owned by a moral or physical person, and which can be made available to others on a free or fee basis.

So there we go : "savoir-faire" became "know-how" in business language, which was translated back to "savoir-faire" by Alcatel.
Life is ironical.
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