Copy and paste or copy and paste?

copy and paste - proper keyboard use

"Zemmour: un copié-collé de Trump" could be read on BFMTV at the end of November 2021.

A strange way of writing or a grammatical error for some, invariable for others. Should past participles be granted or pluralized? Should the expression remain invariable? No agreement, neither in gender nor in number, but rather in the infinitive! How can all readers agree? What's really going on?

Zemmour copy-pasting Trump?

What is a copy and paste of Trump? Did Trump copy-paste Zemmour or is it the other way around? Did Zemmour copy-paste Trump? Did Zemmour copy-paste Trump?

If we stick to the original intention of the article's author, we can imagine that it was Zemmour who observed Trump, then decided to copy and paste him... strategy to win the presidential election?

A process without rules?

Nominalisation (or substantivation) is the process of forming a noun from a verb. Almost all verbs are suitable! In general, a suffix is added to the verb root, but it's hard to find an established rule on the subject, so we'll have to turn to the research work of a number of linguistic academics to try and get a clearer picture (cf. in particular the work of Delphine Tribout and her thesis on Noun to verb and verb to noun conversions in French).

Nevertheless, we can try to substantiate without risk by taking into account the procedures frequently used in French. Take, for example, cases where suffixes such as -age, -ement, -tion, -ure, -sion, -ence, -ance, -ie, -ise, -tude, -esse, -erie, -eur, -rie, -isme, -iste or -é (an indignant one!) or -ée, etc. are added. Thus, arrival, a nominalization of the verb to arrive, can designate either the action of arriving, or the place where one arrives.

Finally, it should be noted that there are cases where nominalization takes place without the addition of a suffix (such as dire, rire, souper, sourire, dîner) or even by elision of the verbal ending (finir, substantivized as fin).

From the expression copier-coller, we could imagine: copiage-collage, copiement-collement, copiation-collation, copiure-collure, [...], copitude-collitude, copisme-collisme, copience-collence, copie-collie and so on. Or quite simply, copy-paste!

Nominalization, a veritable kitchen of past participle words.

And it's in the kitchen that we find a whole host of nouns formed from past participles: une entrée, une gelée, un écrasé, un velouté, un râpé, un émincé, un mijoté, un salé, even un raté for bad cooks! If you're interested in this subject, take a look at Bernard Mirgain's article entitled Substantivation of past participles and gastronomy vocabulary. It's much easier to digest than the past participle agreement rule...

Zemmour, Trump's copy-and-paste candidate?

Copy and paste noun

Did Trump use a keyboard shortcut to create a French version of his clone? If we had no doubts about France's interest in Trump's election, let us be allowed to question Trump's interest in the 2022 presidential elections or in candidate Zemmour...

Let's bet it's Zemmour who's inspired by Trump, copying him to better paste him!

Whatever the orthographic form of the nominalization of copy-paste, the process is intended to designate either the process itself, or the result produced.

If it's the process we're referring to, it's Zemmour's action we wish to denounce. If it's the result, it's the copy of Trump that results from Zemmour's action, no doubt about it.

Finally, let's guard against a cultural Brexit... If we go back to the origin of the expression, copy-paste in English, shouldn't we consider sticking to English by simply copying and pasting as an excellent translation of this infinitive? The term copy-paste was coined almost at the same time as the IBM PC. judging by its appearance in the literature.

Find out more writing tips on the blog

PS to all Nicolas: if you like this article so much that you plagiarize it because you're an ardent promoter of the French language, don't forget to cite your sources. Thank you, Nicolas!

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