Les autres

November 21, 2003

As usual Laurie Taylor moved me to an involuntary snigger, this time with his column on solidarity with university administrators ( THES , November 14).

It reminded me of when I was on an introductory French course.

The teacher asked us to state in English what our job was, she then translated it into French and we had to repeat it.

Student, housewife, retired and nurse all translated quite nicely but I am afraid "university administrator" stumped the native French speaker.

Curling her nose in distaste, she asked me to repeat it in English again to make sure she had heard right. It appears that the two words are diametric contradictions in French.

I was then dismissively told to repeat the words "Je suis un bureaucrate".

Tom McAra
Assistant director of finance - procurement
University of Glasgow

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