Moyen Orient vs Proche Orient

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by LMorland, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley for the time being.
    American living in France
    Dear Fellow WR Folks,

    I'm translating a document from French that refers to the Moyen Orient. I was surprised to see this term, because one of the things that struck me when I moved to France is that what we in the U.S. call the Middle East, the French call the Near East (Proche Orient). And from the point of view of geography, it makes sense that the French would feel that Israel, Lebanon, etc., are situated relatively near to them, and thus call that region the Proche Orient.

    Or at least my reading of Le Monde, etc., has left me with that impression.

    Yet according to the WR dictionary, Moyen Orient does mean Middle East. What gives?
  2. Gil Senior Member

    Français, Canada
    previously discussed there
  3. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Canberra, Australia
    English - Australia
    Pretty simple really:

    Proche-Orient = Near East
    Moyen Orient = Middle East

    The Middle East is generally considered to be a larger geographical area than the Near East.
  4. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley for the time being.
    American living in France
    Thanks, Gil -- you're the best! :)

    Thank you for your suggestion, cropje_jnr, but Gil himself gave a very precise definition back in that other thread, which I'm repeating here:
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  5. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    In AE we call this area Middle East and North Africa region (often abbreviated MENA region)

    Near East (as well as "Far" East) is a geographical reference to Europe, which we don't share. Nor do most residents of those regions.
  6. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, U.S.A.
    American English
    Uh, we do? :) I don't know many people who group the two together.
  7. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    Yep, we do. See here and here.
  8. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    This article shows one Economic way of looking at Europe Middle East & Africa, ou EMEA, the images show the general area of concerned with the Moyen-Orient.
    This includes the Poche-Orient which in farness is quite far from the US of A.
  9. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, U.S.A.
    American English
    Okay, I guess that is true in government/business writing (as the links indicate). But the average guy in the street is unlikely to be familiar with the term "MENA". The "Middle East" and "North Africa" are used, but normally separately.
  10. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley for the time being.
    American living in France
    Who are we? Honestly, I am a news junkie, I'm constantly reading all kinds of articles on politics and economics, and I've never heard of MENA.

    And in my experience when people talk or write about the "Middle East" they are talking about this area, and usually the western part of it. Even right now, at the height of the war in Gaza, the references are to the "Middle East" and to Egypt (which borders Gaza), but not to North Africa, which is an entirely different kettle of fish, is it not?

    :idea: You live in D.C., wildan -- maybe you work for the government? ;)
  11. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    You are right--your map show the Middle East--le moyen orient.

    But your thread asked about le proche orient--literally (and what the Brits often call) the Near East

    Together they are called MENA--and yes, I do work in the international affairs field and have lived and worked number of years in that region. I hear this term MENA (MEE-nah) every day in my work. (I don't think you would hear it in the general media--even NPR--because let's face it, Americans under 50 have never seen a geography textbook in school!)

    But I never hear "Near East" any more. Nowadays it is considered an old, non-accurate term in relation to where we live in North America vs. the location of that region. (Some people in that region also would tell you "near to what?"--it assumes Europe is the place to be related to. Middle East is OK because in Arabic, it is translated as "Center of the East"--which doesn't sound the same)

    If you look at what makes up MENA, you have the Middle East, the Gulf or Gulf Countries (sometimes called GCC countries because of their cooperation alliance of that name), the Levant (le levant means "where the sun rises" -- that's an old term for the part of the Middle East that is not the Gulf) and North Africa.

    In my own experience, North Africa is often called le Maghreb in French (ou le soleil se couche) and people from there are called Maghrébins (North Africans in English), which is confusing to Arabic-speakers from the region, because in Arabic Maghreb specifically means Morocco.

    Chacun voit midi à sa porte ! I'm sure others see this in other ways.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  12. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Thank you Wildan for introducing us to this somewhat new phrase. It seems to be very popular indeed in international institutions such as the World Bank, and its evolution reminds me of another phrase: BRIC countries, which was first found in some English-speaking historians' speech, and which then was taken up by English-speaking media, and finally - a few years later - reached France and French language.
    So this thread has been most useful, and timesaving for me.:thumbsup:
  13. the dazzler Senior Member

    UK English
    Well I'm only a Brit, but English Wikipedia's helpful article on the Near East here links to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy here. No suggestion there that "Near East" means "Europe" to Americans.
  14. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    Because it's an old and well known think tank (and quite full of white heads using old language!) they likely wouldn't want to change their name and lose their brand.
  15. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley for the time being.
    American living in France
    Dear Wildan, could you please clarify who uses that term, and when? I think -- from rereading your posts below -- you stated that the term Near East used to be used by the British to refer to what we call the "Middle East" (the Levant, etc.). But am I correct in understanding that you also stated that Americans formerly used the term to refer to Europe?

    I'm scratching my head over here in the "Southwestern Part of the Near East," as I guess I would be, according to that cartography. ;)

    { And to further complicate matters, we now have a new geographical grouping, l'Union pour la Méditerranée, whose acrynom is UPM! }
  16. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    No, I don't believe that Europe has anything to do with that reference to MENA region or the Near/Middle East (take your pick).

    Perhaps you are confusing my point with L'irlandais' post (#8), which brought Europe up on the basis of a French Wikipedia link that suggested some economic connection between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

    PS In economic terms I might consider that a single (potential) economic and cultural region could be the Mediterranean basin--Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Levant--but that's another topic...
  17. akaAJ Senior Member

    New York
    American English, Yiddish
    Until wildan1 used it I had never heard of MENA. I have never seen it in the New York Times or any other lay publication that I read. I think MENA is strictly the jargon of a certain class of wonk.

    That saud (ok, I'll leave that Freudian slip), I have frequently heard both "Near East" and "Middle East", the first Egypt to Iraq/Iran and the second with more fluid boundaries, typically going as far east as Pakistan but with the west varying from Egypt to Iran. India (sometimes including Pakistan) might be referred to as "the subcontinent. North Africa is North Africa.
  18. LMorland

    LMorland Senior Member

    Back in Berkeley for the time being.
    American living in France
    Well, that's exactly the grouping that makes up the (functional members of the) UPM:
    Here's a map, and here's what they're currently working on:
    Merry Christmas! :)

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