Monday, March 28, 2011

The New Democrats - en français!

I know I'm guilty of 'thinking in English' here. I don't claim to be doing anything else. I'm hardly an expert.

But I really don't get 'Nouveau Parti démocratique'. I mean I don't quite understand how the name 'New Democratic Party' translates into French.

I half get it. I remember enough of my high school French to recall that some adjectives come before nouns, like 'nouveau', and some come after, like 'démocratique'. You could say 'C'est un nouveau parti', or 'C'est un parti démocratique'. Fine.

But that seems to imply that the Nouveau Parti démocratique is a party with is both nouveau and démocratique. Like Barack Obama's party is the original one, and this is the 'new one'. 'Democratic Party, Part II'.

Personally, though, I've always understood the party name not to mean 'Democrats: The Next Generation' so much as 'the Party of New Democrats', the party of people who believe in a kind of 'new democracy. After all, supporters call themselves 'New Democrats', with no sense that the 'new' there describes them as individuals or points out some kind of novelty within the party.

That being the case then, it feels to me - it's always felt to me - as if the party's French name ought to be the 'Parti nouveau démocratique'. Or perhaps the 'Parti nouveau-démocratique' (with that sexy hyphen). But why isn't it?

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