For K&C, world is master in French

I was tidying up my books today and I stumbled upon a book I didn’t remember I had : the French translation of the Kernighan & Ritchie, published in 1990 under the title ‘Le langage C’. This is the second edition, dubbed ‘C ANSI’.

I have rarely, if ever, used this book. I am fluent enough in English and — still today — I use the original. I remember I bought the French translation second hand, as a curiosity.

Anyway, what I found funny is the way the translators chose to put the über-famous ‘Hello world’ in French. I was expecting to find something like ‘Bonjour, monde’ or ‘Bonjour, le monde’ or even ‘Bonjour tout le monde’ (the last of which sounding the most natural in spoken French), but instead they did this (this is verbatim from the book):

#include <stdio.h>

   printf("bonjour, maîtren");

As you can easily guess, ‘maître’ stands for ‘master’ in French. The idea is that the computer greets the programmer, its master indeed, as the one who brings the program to life.

Don’t you think that there is a vague reminiscence of an hegelian master-slave dialectic in this bit of code that in itself is sufficient to found skynet-like myths?


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