In November 2002 we are occupied with a sense of injustice, we the ‘armaturiers’ of France. We, who with sweat on our brows, at the depths of our imagination and at the forefront of ancestral know-how, render possible the working world as you witness it develop day by day. Our work is there, invisible to your eyes. You, who unwittingly benefit from this work daily, unnoticeable as so many of the vital forces. As imperceptible and unrecognized as it is essential to the proper running of this modern world in which the human genius relentlessly pushes us ever further. And though for two years now we have endeavoured with all our means to obtain our so badly deserved recognition, we are alas kept in waiting. Entrenched behind a well-known creed that we have made ours, “the essential is invisible to the naked eye”. Indeed, each day the fruit of our work, these tons of steel assembled by hand like a work of art disappear under tons of concrete and dejectedly we disappear with it. How much longer must we bear this injustice with regard to our noble trade? How much longer must we justify the use of the nevertheless legitimate word ‘Armaturier’, a 40 year-old neologism, to describe ourselves? Since last year we have played an active role in the achievement of the Millau Viaduct, the tallest and longest viaduct in the world. Our working companions are constantly engaged in media coverage and the praise of a world in admiration. And never, a single word about us. How much longer must we bear this unbearable silence ?
On November 12th we therefore took a step in the direction to claim our right, a right that has been refused for much too long. The right to be defined, the right to exist. So, we wrote to each member of the “Académie Française”. We explained this injustice accompanied by some suggestions of definitions. That evening a glimmer of hope was raised within the hearts of an entire profession: “Les Armaturiers” of France.
Sensitive to our plea, the members of the “Académie Française” instantly assured us of the appropriateness of our request for recognition and stated it would be taken into consideration:
“I find this combat for the recognition of a trade very noble. It is rare to meet entrepreneurs who have known how to maintain a passion for their trade. A manual trade such as ‘Armaturier’ develops as much nobility and know-how as the trade of engineer. It thus seems absolutely logical that they are recognised in the French language”, affirmed Jean d’Ormesson, with whom we have had two telephone discussions.
Jean Dutourd assured us “The term ‘Armaturier’ shall be presented to the lexicography commission”,
’Armaturier’ has legitimate reasons to make its consonance, and the work that it signifies, permanence, affirmed Yves Pouliquen.
’It is true that the Academy will not be returning to the letter ‘A’ for a long time", replied Jacqueline de Romilly, who assured us our dossier will be preciously sought for until such date.
“The word ‘armaturier’ is very beautiful”, wrote Pierre Rosenberg, equally sorry about the delay separating us from the renewed study of the letter ‘A’, continuing, “and I will make every effort to ensure it is entered in our dictionary”.
“I will transmit your letter and appended documents to the Académie française dictionary department who will relate with the commission. Rest assured that we will give our utmost attention to your request”, added Maurice Druon, the permanent honorary secretary.
“Everything comes to those who wait…“
The hour of the letter ‘A’, as in ‘armaturier’, will soon be with us and our trade will see the light of day…
Our thanks go out to our members of the Académie française for these words of encouragement. Our enquiry has served its purpose.
Today the word that means so much to us, our word, has still not made its entry into the dictionaries. We remain nevertheless confident. At the Académie Française the letter ‘A’ will soon be due for consideration and on this day the word ‘armaturier’ will resound hard and loud within our hearts.