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.”
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”
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 🙂 )
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Thanks, Bea dM!