The sublime and the ridiculous: trash collection vocabulary in French

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Picture source: me.

One day in Japan, a few of us Westerners were out with some Japanese guys.  We walked by a weathered old wooden building with beautiful, faded characters written on the side.  It was really quite striking.  “What does it say?,” we asked the Japanese guys.  The answer: “no parking.”

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Picture source: me.

Indeed, just reading the signs that I walk by on the way to work–well, really, on my way anywhere–is a common way for Zipf’s Law to make its appearance in my day.  The picture above shows a sign that I passed on my way to the lab yesterday.  It’s on a pretty pedestrian subject, but I still had to look up a number of the words on it.  And so goes the romance of the experience of learning a language.

  • le décharge: garbage dump.  (Also a shot or a salvo.)
  • l’encombrant: I haven’t been able to find this as a noun, although that seems to be how it’s being used in the sign.  As an adjective, it means “in the way,” or “cumbersome.”
  • le créneau: this can mean a number of related things–a slot, a niche, a crenel, and I guess metaphorically, a time slot.
  • le créneau de collecte: the trash collection time, I think.
  • le conteneur: container.
  • les ordures (n.f.pl.) litter, trash.
  • l’encombrement: blockage.
  • passible de verbalisation: I think this is “subject to reporting.”  Native speakers?

2 thoughts on “The sublime and the ridiculous: trash collection vocabulary in French”

  1. I’d never come across “verbalisation” before, in the context I wonder if it just means a fine? in Italian the police write up a “verbale” for parking offenses, and you have to pay the mentioned on it …. ? (30% off if you pay within 5 days 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

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