Today I’ve come across the word hacker. These "new" terms linked to the Internet, generally English, are difficult to deal with because no one agrees on how to translate them at first; it takes a few years for the more popular term to push out the others. This one is particularly difficult as it has two sides: the "nice" hacker, the programming genius who unravels system just because she can, and the "nasty" hacker, who wreaks havoc on the net for fun. The context of my translation clearly indicated that I was dealing with the second kind.
I came across its wikipedia entry, which gives "bidouilleur" (from "bidouiller", slang term meaning "to fiddle with") as a translation. I really don’t like this translation, as it doesn’t make it clear that the person in question fiddles with computer programs. The article also gave a link to the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France, an organisation that I didn’t know existed. Its objective is to coordinate cultural policies in favour of regional or minority languages. They have a terminology database called CRITER, which contains the terms published in the Journal Officiel by the Commission générale de terminologie et de néologie, roughly 3000 French terms with their definitions and their foreign equivalent.
I did a search for hacker, and it gives "fouineur" as a recommended term. What is interesting is that their source for this term is the Office québécois de la langue française. Now I’ve got nothing against my Canadian cousins’ version of French, but it has varied greatly from "French French" along the years, so much that I would never attempt a French translation for a Canadian public. I’m wondering whether the dynamism shown by French Canadians in terms of promoting their language (see the very respected and widely used Grand dictionnaire terminologique) might mean that "French French" is going to become more and more "canadianised" in the future.
Anyway, I’m not fond of fouineur (nosey person) either, as it is too positive for my context of a person creating havoc just because they can. So I went for pirate informatique, as I think the maverick image of a person with no respect for the law was more appropriate than the relatively positive fouineur and bidouilleur.