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What do the Corleone, the Kardashian and the NYSE have in common?

Their family!

Whatever the history, the relationship, the Christmas presents and Thanksgiving failures, the family IS. But, what is it? Strongly restraining roots in an educative framework, the family only wishes us the best! Now, for a couple of years, I have been noticing the word ‘family’ break in the economic context.

Until recently, a company had subsidiaries that made a group of it. Should the said subsidiaries be located abroad, the group became an international group. The economic systems across all the continents shared this pattern.

Since 2009 precisely, and the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, The previously standard term of group or international group tend to disappear giving way to ‘families of companies’ in more and more press releases, transferring therefore a warmer vision of a home sweet home into the economic context.

Examples (as they come first in a search engine results announcing 26 million results): The Rock Family of Companies ; Republic Family of Companies ; The Kiely Family of Companies…

The American Declaration of independence includes the pursuit of happiness. Does this semantic shift mean that the concept has been heard by CEO’s (or their communication departments)? Or is supposed happiness the new lever to even more productivity? Whatever the reason, the change has occurred.

des familles d’entreprises ?

Why is it not possible to translate ‘family of companies’ into French as ‘famille d’entreprises’?

Let’s jump back in time for a clear understanding. In Europe, and in particular in France, the utopists of the 19th century like Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Charles Fourier, and Jean-Baptiste Godin had designed ideal cities where the workers would not only be able to benefit from living close to their workplace, but also from decent housing, school for their children, and a vegetable garden in their backyard. The magnificent saltworks in Arc-et-Senans still reflects this idealistic vision.

Translating my client’s press release, I just cannot ignore France’s historical and cultural background. Writing in French that: « X intègre la famille Y » would necessarily convey this patriarchal spirit no longer alive in 2018. The target readers would feel this reference outdated, which I do not want for my client.

My question still remains. Therefore, how to render in French the idea of ‘family’, and my client’s will to show a disruption in the way companies should be considered? My client’s CEO or communication department did mean this change in words. My job is to reflect it in French, all the more since the French also have surrendered to the happiness at work wave, and such concepts as ‘bienveillance’ (empathy) and its party of friendly synonyms.

I could not seem to find an appropriate candidate among the synonym susbtantives to replace ‘groupe’, and decided to implement the home-sweet-home tone via some introductory words, i.e. « X entre au sein du groupe Y ». ‘Au sein de’, ‘within’ or literally ‘in the bosom of’ conveys the concept and is perfectly acceptable in an economic of industrial context without betraying my client’s will. Plus, according to a more precise context, additional adjectives may also reinforce this aspect, not changing any other meaning.

Cross-cultural communication aims to produce a text that appears to have been written (and thought) in the local culture and language, so as to reach its target.

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