comporter (patentese)

20:31 Dec 9, 2019
French to English translations [PRO]
Tech/Engineering - Patents
French term or phrase: comporter (patentese)
I recently had a bit of a grumble from a client, with a patent to do with engines, of which I've done many over the years, due to the fact that I had not systematically translated "comporter" and "comprendre" by "comprise" in English.

I'm well aware that "comprise" is extremely commonly used, good patentese in English. My basic dictionaries and most online dictionaries translate both "comporter" and "comprendre" by "comprise" (as one of their meanings). But this supposed equivalence has always bugged me.

I maintain that both "comporter" and "comprendre" are more inclusive than "comprise". If something "comprises" something it consists of that and nothing else. If something "comporte X" or "comprend X", it seems clear that it is perfectly possible that it may also "comporte Y" or "comprend Y". If a French patent author wanted to be as exclusive as the word "comprise" requires they would have to use "consister en" or "être composé de". In my view.

The Cambridge Dictionary, hopefully a respectable online authority, gives a few definitions of "comprise": .

There, example 1, "The Pacific Rim comprises countries bordering the Pacific, including the US, Canada, Japan, China, and the Koreas.", tends to illustrate my point: it consists of countries satisfying that condition... and no others.

But the definition for example 2 appears to go against what I'm saying: "to have as parts or members, or to be those parts or members". In reality, though, the two examples there don't contradict my hypothesis.

Does this matter? Should I just keep my head down and use "comprise" all the time because that makes it more patentesey (and keeps the clients happy)? Should I just disregard the fact that authors of patents in French and English appear to be writing patents with differing degrees of inclusivity... and the fact that 99% of bilingual English-French patents found online show no sign of either awareness of or concern for this point?

And yet if anything is meant to be accurate in its use of language it's patents...

I'd be particularly interested if someone wishes to argue against my view on these two verbs "comporter" and "comprendre".
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:23

Summary of answers provided
4 +1Include
Stephen McCann

Discussion entries: 1



49 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1

I often translate "comporter" as "include". In many cases French patents will use both seemingly interchangeably, and I find that "include" works better for comporter. Having said that, if your client prefers "comprise" for both "comprendre" and "comporter" there isn't really any need to question that, unless the context is clearly indicating that "comprise" is incorrect, in which case I'm sure even your client would agree with you.

Stephen McCann
Local time: 12:23
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
Notes to answerer
Asker: Great! I'm glad someone else has thought along the same lines...

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Tony M: I do the same — though I think we do not need to be too slavish about the fact that 'comprise' in EN often (but not always) has the sense of 'consists [entirely] of...'
11 hrs
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