Termes d’Aviation / Glossary of Aviation Terms

Termes d’Aviation / Glossary of Aviation Terms was compiled by Lt Victor Page with Lt Paul Montariol of the French Flying Corps, who had been assigned to the Instruction Dept of the Signal Corps Aviation School at Mineola, Long Island. The book was published in 1917 by the Norman Henley Publishing Co, and was approved for publication by Maj W G Kilner, Commanding Officer of the Signal Corps Aviation School.

Shown are the cover, a rather splendid fold-out of the full length of a fuselage, and a few pages of the glossary – which is spread over some 90 pages, English-French, followed by French-English, generously laid out. Some correspondences do not match conveniently:  ‘Zuhming, Zooming: Monter en chandelle’ on page 24 of the English-French section becomes ‘monter: climb’ and ‘chandelle: zuhm, zuhming, zoom’ on pages 62 and 60 of the French-English section. It perhaps served as an indication to those learning French or English, as well as learning to fly, that languages are not translations of each other, a further shock to some American servicemen who arrived in France without fully realising that they would need to learn a foreign language.20170524_103722

Aviation Terms p24,5

Some of the French terms are more succinct than their English counterparts: ‘safety belt with suspenders’ is not as clean as ‘ceinture looping’, and ‘se metre en pylone’ is more figurative than ‘landing on nose & remaining tail high’. But ‘tail dive’ is rather faster off the tongue  than ‘glissade sur la queue’, and ‘leading edge’ simpler than ‘bord d’attaque arétier avant’. The matching of the French ‘taxi’ with the English ‘bus’ (both described as ‘comm.’) brings an image of camaraderie; and a few terms have disappeared, sadly – ‘battling planes’ and, more or less, ‘loggy’ (sluggish), which has a 2/8 rating for current usage in the OED. Do planes still have ‘oil grooves’? They did in 1917, the French term being ‘pattes d’araignées’ (spiders’ footsteps).

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