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Q: jobsworth ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: jobsworth
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: badabing-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 16 Feb 2006 08:21 PST
Expires: 18 Mar 2006 08:21 PST
Question ID: 446538
could you translate these French posts for me, pls?


Request for Question Clarification by leli-ga on 18 Feb 2006 05:16 PST
Hello Granny B

Is your main interest the word 'jobsworth'? If so, you may not need a
full translation.

These posts are mostly about translating 'jobsworth' into French. The
discussion starts with a request for help. Then there's a bit of
chit-chat, a few suggestions, and the translator says he'll probably
go with "employé borné". (narrow-minded, hidebound employee)

I'd be happy to translate more if you need it. Just let me know. 

Best wishes - Leli

Clarification of Question by badabing-ga on 18 Feb 2006 07:38 PST
hey, miss darlin? Leli,

was hoping you?d tackle this one but I think you?ve been about as
scarce as gran lately.

figured it was a lot of chit-chat and, Lord knows, granny hates
invading anyone?s message board privacy.  was curious about the
message containing grève du zèle.  happened across this convo while
looking for a word describing a person/employee (group) who grabs a
manual/rule book incessantly to the point of being a bottleneck in an
organization.  somehow the French seem to have more of a select
vocabulary for states of being (annoying?).  I?m sure you remember
this one?

so I?m assuming the poster offers as a synonym for jobsworth and OP
rejects it as not quite right.  would grève du zèle describe my
person, as you understand the phrase?  'course, I?d rather have an
Americanism, but ya gotta give it up to the French as the Masters of

don?t hit me, French people.

please post anything you like in the answer box, Miss Leli

Geof:  ba-dum-pump (and ka-ching)!

PG:  miss you, too, grandottir.  gran?s so busy consulting the rule
book on her new job, she can?t get squat done.  grrr?miss all the
researchers/commenters here in the GA sandlot.

Subject: Re: jobsworth
Answered By: leli-ga on 19 Feb 2006 03:05 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello again

Not quite what you want - "grève du zèle" (literally 'zeal strike') is
a work-to-rule.

Do people ever work to rule in the US? I started to wonder when I
found explanations on the web suggesting it just means working slowly.
Here in the UK a work-to-rule is more "the action of strictly
observing the limits of one's occupational duties" (OED). This often
means less work - e.g. my binmen/garbage collectors leaving behind any
rubbish not "correctly presented" - but it can  mean more - e.g.
French customs officers stopping 1 car in 3 at border crossings.

This definition of a 'grève du zèle' is not too far off a British
work-to-rule: "une exécution méticuleuse et exagérée des consignes de
travail" - a meticulous and exaggerated implementation of work

I believe that the zeal part of the phrase refers to the extra energy
put into following rules to the letter, not to a lack of zeal.

Perhaps you could coin a phrase like 'rule zealot' for the kind of
person you're describing?

The forum members also discuss "fonctionnaire empesé", a starched
functionary, and someone who is "retranché dans ses tâches",
entrenched in his duties.

"Cette personne est retranchée dans ses tâches... sans qu'il y ait
grève de zèle...?" means "This person is entrenched in his
tasks/job/duties  . . . without there being a work-to-rule?"

"Gratte-papier" means scratch-paper, pen-pusher.

Some of the other more unusual words are to do with alchemy (things
bubbling in the translator's workshop) and dainty morsels (translation
problems) served up to the forum.

Jobsworth is quite popular in the UK to describe a rulebook-lover, but
the emphasis is more on his dealings with customers than on the effect
within an organisation, "at the expense of common sense" as it says in
the OED. ("A person in authority (esp. a minor official) who insists
on adhering to rules and regulations or bureaucratic procedures even
at the expense of common sense.")

Please let me know if you want any other bits translated.

Hope this is of some use  - best wishes - Leli

PS Yes, I do remember playing around with that other question. This
was just a mini-quickie in comparison.
badabing-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $20.00
nah, we just have the work-to-eat policy over here.  thanks for the
literal and functional meaning for grève du zèle.  that works for me. 
love ya, Leli!

Subject: Re: jobsworth
From: geof-ga on 18 Feb 2006 01:03 PST
It seems that as far as Google researchers are concerned the $2 you
offered is LESS than their job's worth!
Subject: Re: jobsworth
From: politicalguru-ga on 18 Feb 2006 03:55 PST
Sorry gran, my French is not good enough. BUt I do miss you. Why don't
you come visit us once in a while?
Subject: Re: jobsworth
From: leli-ga on 20 Feb 2006 09:10 PST
Dear GB

You are a kind and generous baddybing. Thank you very much.

It was so nice to see you around.

All best wishes - Leli

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