3 French Words That May Help Explain Higher EV Adoption Rates in Québec
If you have the chance to work with French-speaking advocates of plug-in electric vehicles in Canada you will notice two things. First, EV sales in Québec are significantly higher than any where else in Canada (both in absolute and per capita terms). Second, there are a few very common translation “mistakes” where instead of the direct English translation a similar but different word is frequently used.
While I realize that there are many factors that impact EV adoption rates, I can’t help but think that these words may give insight into how language is having a larger impact than we may think. These 3 mistakes are:
1. Durable Development instead of Sustainable Development.
French word is ‘développement durable’. I actually prefer the word durable. Durable is strong. Durable has value – you will pay more for a product that is more durable. Durable lasts. Sustainable is good, but it doesn’t have the strength of the word durable. I wish it did.
2. Thermal Vehicle instead of Conventional Vehicle.
French word is ‘voiture thermique’. Given that conventional vehicles convert 15-20% of the energy into motion and the remaining 80-85% goes to heat, calling them thermal cars is pretty bang on. If 85% of what a store sold were hats, you would probably call it a hat store. The word conventional suggests that it is the default. Thermal suggests that it’s really good at making heat… which depending on the time of year may or may not be a good thing.
3. Formation instead of Training.
French word is, hold your breath, ‘formation’. I like this concept. We all know training is to help develop a person. To build their skill set. While the word training implies this, the word formation hammers it home. When you form something or someone you are framing their approach. You are clearly building them.
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So, what if…
What if instead of “training people about the sustainability benefits of electric vehicles over conventional vehicles” we “gave people the formation needed to understand the durable benefits of electric vehicles over thermal cars”. Perhaps these mistakes aren’t mistakes?