Joho the Blog » Everything isn’t miscellaneous in France

Everything isn’t miscellaneous in France

Last night at a very interesting, delicious and fun dinner with a few blogging authors, I found out that my book title, Everything Is Miscellaneous, doesn’t translate well into French. Apparently the word the French use to label the miscellaneous box in a taxonomy is “autre.” But “Everything is Other” has a misleading existential overtone. “In Hell, everything is other,” Sartre might have written. I sort of don’t want people browsing for books to think that mine is a depressing post-War work about universal alienation.

That great French language expert, Monsieur Google, translates the title as “tout est divers.” I don’t know French well enough to be able to tell if that’s appropriate, odd, or possibly the punchline to a well-known dirty joke. [Tags:]

9 Responses to “Everything isn’t miscellaneous in France”

  1. “Tout est divers” isn’t bad – “everything is various”, roughly.

    It also evokes “faits divers”, an untranslatable rubric used in the French press for everyday-life news stories. (It’s something like a cross between “In Other News”, “True Crime” and “Stop Press”.) One definition I’ve seen says ‘a fait divers is something that could happen to anyone’.

    But languages differ, and you may not be able to find the ideal mot juste. (I was surprised to notice the other day that Arundhati Roy’s The god of small things translates as Le dieu des petits riens – ‘little nothings’?) Your hypothetical(?) French translator might be better off casting the net wider. “Ceci n’est pas un cadre”, maybe?

  2. Um… that’s if ‘cadre’ means ‘shelf’. Which it may not. It’s been a while.

  3. “Tout est divers” is about as close as you’ll get, I agree. I think that “Le desordre est fondamental” might be similar but there you get into what is meant by order and disorder, and I don’t think that is the same basic notion as miscellany.

  4. I dunno .. “Tout est par ci et par la” (Everything Is Here and There) might work ?

  5. To hark back to the Foucauldian discussion that we started lo these many years ago, what about [spinning off from Jon's suggestion above]

    Le Désordre Des Choses?

  6. One possible solution:
    If the French use “Autre” in the same way we use a “misc” tag, put “Autre” in quotes.

    Another possibility:
    Put the English word “Miscellaneous” in quotes. Most French will recognize it’s English and know the meaning of the word.

  7. One possible solution:
    If the French use “Autre” in the same way we use a “misc” tag, put “Autre” in quotes.

    Another possibility:
    Put the English word “Miscellaneous” in quotes. Most French will recognize it’s English and know the meaning of the word.

  8. “Tout est divers” is how I would have translated it. Closest equivalent you’ll get. I label my boxes “divers” and not “autres”.

  9. Many thanks to you for your site!

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