HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc1894-5
36. Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in the translation of the original English text of the Peace Treaty into French, Armaments are reduced is translated as Les armaments sont réduits; whether Calculated to disturb is translated as Calculé pour troubler; whether Understandings is translated as Ententes, whether Control is translated by Contrôle, which has an entirely different sense; and whether he proposes to take any steps, educational or otherwise, to remedy what is characterised in the French Press as the exotic syntax of the British Foreign Office?


As this question is of academic rather than Parliamentary interest, I will circulate the answer. [Hon. MEMBERS: "No!"] As the hon. and gallant Member does not indicate where the expressions he criticises are to be found in the Treaty, it is a little difficult to answer his question. I have so far been, unable to find in the Treaty either "armaments are reduced" or "les armaments sont réduits," but, in any case, I am unable to see that the one expression is not a perfectly accurate translation of the other. The expression "calculated to disturb" is found in the English text of Article 44, but the French text is not "calculé pour troubler," but "cherchant à troubler." In Article 21 the French text has "ententes" and the English "understandings," and I am unable to see that the one is not in the context a perfectly accurate translation of the other. The word "control" occurs so often in the Treaty that I am unable to say to what extent it is translated by "contrôle," but if the hon. and gallant Member is of opinion that the sense of the two words is always entirely different I must respectfully differ from him. I do not quite understand how the exotic syntax of the Foreign Office can be held responsible for what the hon. and gallant Member appears to regard as mistakes by those responsible for the French text, but in any case he will understand that no alterations are now possible in the text of the Treaty.


Will my hon. Friend permit me to send him a copy of a distinguished French newspaper which deals with all the points mentioned in the question?


Will the hon. Member undertake to have it translated into Tootingeese, so that hon. Members can understand if?