Friday, June 13, 2008

Rechargeable Duracell Batteries\Des piles chargées plus longtemps, rechargées moins souvent?

Consumer Packaging in Canada is regulated by the Consumer Packaging Act (on the Federal level) and by the Charter of the French language. in the province of Québec.

The Duracell graphic designer/copywriter did not get the whole story.

From the federal point of view, the generic name must appear in both official languages:

2.1 Product Identity Declaration

Section 10 Act

2.1.1 Definition Section 30 Regulations

The product identity declaration is a statement of the product's common or generic name, or it may be defined in terms of its function.

2.1.2 Language Subsection 6(2) Regulations

The product identity must be shown in English and French. In some cases a product identity declaration is bilingual in and of itself, such as "cologne" or "serviettes".

It is interesting to note that the word battery is not present anywhere.

Two sets of qualifiers describe the AA Duracell batteries:

They are rechargeable and they are pre-charged. The word "rechargeable" is the same for both languages but its presence is confusing as it is not part of a French set of words. Pre-charged did get translated by Pré-chargée. Interestingly enough, even though the package contains 4 batteries, the adjectives used in French appear in singular only – préchargée. (as the word “pile” for battery is feminine). To correct this, all adjectives relating to the batteries would have to agree in gender and in number with batteries (feminine, plural).

The qualifiers present another problem: In English we have



On the French side, the situation gets even more confused, as we have

CHARGÉE PLUS LONGTEMPS which literally means “charged longer” – the “stays” word has disappeared. A more explicit message would have been

Reste chargée plus longtemps or

Conserve sa charge plus longtemps

Rechargée moins souvent literally means recharged less often. One meaning would be that the battery does not contain as much charge (during production?). I do not believe that is what they mean here. While this truncated type of statement is understandable in English, a better French would have been

Nécessite une recharge moins souvent or

Se recharge moins souvent

This article of the Quebec legislation covers packages:

51. Every inscription on a product, on its container or on its wrapping, or on a document or object supplied with it, including the directions for use and the warranty certificates, must be drafted in French. This rule applies also to menus and wine lists.

The French inscription may be accompanied with a translation or translations, but no inscription in another language may be given greater prominence than that in French.

In the case of the Duracell package, the English fonts are larger.

Do these mistakes make a difference – they certainly do and in my experience the customary reaction of a French-speaking customer would be to say: “The manufacturer doesn’t give a damn”, even in cases where it was an oversight, a lack of knowledge of the legislation. Would a business knowingly make these mistakes and alienate their customers?

Ces erreurs d’emballage sont fréquentes mais néanmoins déplorables. C’est au grand public qu’appartient le devoir de réagir.