Lassa bilingual rhetorics

The Lassa fever is spreading to new States in Nigeria. But, there is no panicking in a country where death is commonplace, where thousands could kick the bucket in a day, and there would be no mourning. The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign is a one off; the leader lived in New York working for the World Bank or is inspired by the “Oyinbo’. As the death toll is rising, health experts talk also about keeping a clean environment and they warn about the consumption of food contaminated by the carrier rat, thereby querying the drinking of ‘garri’. IMG_20160119_004844.JPG
As My French World is concerned about carrying the information to our bilingual audience, Adebola Akinlawon – the January 17 birthday girl – sent in a translation, which we decided to comment. You may refer to our earlier post on lassa to compare the Bola’s translation and Souleymane’s suggested revision.


We went for ATTENTION because the text targets a larger and anonymous audience, whereas ‘Faites attention (vous)’ or ‘Fais attention (toi)’ is ok when you are addressing someone or a group of people directly. FAITES ATTENTION means ‘be careful’ while ATTENTION means ‘Warning’.

2. FIÈVRE DE LASSA & FIÈVRE LASSA. Both are acceptable. Although they refer to the same disease, they convey slight grammatical differences and meaning. ‘Fièvre de Lassa’ means that the fever originated from the geographical location called Lassa. As such, we can say ‘Fièvre d’Ebola’. However, ‘Fièvre lassa’ as well as Fièvre ebola means that the disease, now qualified (as an adjective) as lassa or ebola, is treated as an adjective, giving it a specific meaning. Were it to receive the linguistic backing of the developed world, the disease would enter the dictionary as le lassa, l’ebola as we have le paludisme, la diarrhée, la pénicilline (drug).

3. ABRITER (cf. ‘Le nom du rat qui abrite le virus’). ‘Abriter’ means to give accommodation, to preserve or protect. But, we mean that the rat is carrying the virus, that’s why we have ‘le rat porteur (carrier of the disease)’ or we could also say ‘le rat qui porte le virus’ (which carries the virus).

4. MAMELLES or MAMELONS. Both mean nipples. ‘Mamelons’ goes for human beings while ‘mamelles’ is better for animals.

5. AUSSI means ‘also’ as in ‘Moi aussi’. But, placed at the beginning of a phrase or sentence, it means ‘therefore’ and causes the inversion between the subject pronoun and the verb. E.g. Il ne me salue pas. Aussi peux-tu croire que nous sommes en querelle. = he doesn’t greet meet. Therefere, you can think that we are quarelling.

6. LES MACHER. It is either chewing them (which is not the case because garri is in singular) or the chewings (which is not possible because ‘macher’ is a verb). ‘en le mâchant’ means by ‘chewing it’.

7. TREMPAGE & TREMPEURS = The soaking or the person soaking Garri

8. VENTES / VENDEUSES. Sales or sellers. But we used ‘Vendeuses’ which means strictly female sellers, which is grammatically awkward but contextually on point. In French grammar, the neutral or the plural are in the masculine except one is sure that all of elements are feminine. But, in Nigeria, we are used to having mostly women selling garri. We chose to do a contextual justice rather than a grammatical justice.

9. SI UTILISÉ POUR EBA, SI IMBIBÉ. It is English in French words : ‘If used’. It is French to bring in a pronoun-subject: Si l’on utilise ; s’il est imbibé,

10. VEUILLEZ is a polite way of asking someone to do something: ‘Veuillez vous asseoir ! = Would you sit down; please, sit down!’ If we are giving a strong warning, we would rather say: Que personne ne plaisante = Let nobody joke.

BECAUSE LASSA FEVER IS DEADLY lassa 20160118-194605.jpg
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