Tuesday, December 9, 2008

L'usine à gaz

During a team meeting at work the other day my boss made reference to the phrase l'usine à gaz or gas factory in English. My British colleague and I both looked at each other quizzically because we had no idea what the heck he was talking about. My boss went on to explain that a gas factory refers to a solution to a problem that is even more complex than the problem itself or an unnecessarily complicated solution to a problem.

Even after the explanation and after several examples were provided by my boss, my colleague and I still couldn't come up with an equivalent phrase in English. After doing some research on the internets my British colleague found the term "white elephant" which I have never heard of before and I discovered the term "Rube Goldberg" machine which I had never heard of before either.

After a few moments of reflection it hit me. Americans don't have an adequate equivalent to the phrase l'usine à gaz because more so in France than in America do they develop such complicated solutions and processes to solve simple problems and it's only befitting that they coined a term to describe it.


JouJou Loves You said...

Wahahaha!!! That is awesome.

Praveen said...

The French have an amazing capability of complicating simple things. That's why I never ask them for directions! lol