Talk:Médecins Sans Frontières

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Former featured article Médecins Sans Frontières is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on February 25, 2006.

Non-English, non-French names[edit]

The lead section currently says that "The organization is known in most of the world by its French name or simply as MSF, ...". But looking at Wikipedia's Languages column, I notice that native translations of the French name seems to be in common use. And looking at for example the organisation's German and Dutch (and other) websites, they use mostly the native name throughout.
   Here in Sweden, the French name is admittedly known (but not so much the abbreviation), but the native name is used much more, on the organisation's website and as reflected in the Wikipedia article (sv:Läkare utan gränser).

I don't know how to quantify "most of the world", and maybe it is generally true, but perhaps it should rather be "in most of the English-speaking world"? -- (talk) 13:32, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

I've marked that as a dubious statement. Localization seems to be the rule, not the exception, in most of the world. (talk) 23:58, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

Neutral Point of View[edit]

I donate to MSF regularly, so I have no grudge against them, but a lot of the text of this article sounded very familiar as I had just been reading articles at their website. There were a number of things lifted verbatim. I feel like I just read an infomercial. Carmaskid (talk) 06:27, 9 November 2013 (UTC)


Whoever spoke the name at the top of the article has a strong foreign accent. A native French speaker should record a new version. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:49, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

I disagree. The organization is known, and internationally registered under its french name, complete with accented characters. This means that the correct pronunciation of the name is a french one. As a student of french, I recognize that the accent of the reader speaking the name is quite neutral, and could quite easily have been spoken by a native English speaker with a good grasp of French as a second language. Indeed, pronouncing the name in 'English' would introduce a strong foreign accent, as second language pronunciations of foreign words tend to be heavily coloured by the speaker's own regional inflections. I endorse keeping the spoken pronunciation guide as is. (Muhanned Nuaimy-Barker (talk) 09:25, 11 April 2016 (UTC))

Requested move from Médecins Sans Frontières to Doctors Without Borders[edit]

Requested move to Doctors Without Borders: Discussion closed with consensus not to move
The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: consensus not to move the page, per the discussion below. Dekimasuよ! 16:11, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Médecins Sans FrontièresDoctors Without Borders – Médecins Sans Frontières is merely the French name for Doctors Without Borders (and indeed, the name is a direct translation); on their English-language website, they call themselves Doctors Without Borders. As this is the name of the organization in English, its Wikipedia article page should reflect its English-language name. The other language Wikis, such as sv:Läkare utan gränser, follow the same practice of localization. Médecins Sans Frontières should be a redirect to Doctors Without Borders in the English language Wiki.– Titanium Dragon (talk) 06:25, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

This is a contested technical request (permalink). Titanium Dragon (talk) 06:26, 11 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Please see the previous rename proposals in the archives; this is the fourth one, the previous three having failed. The English name is actually a translation of the original French name. This organisation originated in France. MSF's English language website is not the one quoted, it is where it clearly calls itself MSF and not DWB. The US branch that the move proposal refers to is about the only one that uses the url ''. All the other English language countries use '' (see the international list at, and all country websites add a translation into their language when it is not French. The BBC as far as I can see uses MSF to refer to the organisation. Usage presumably is different in the US, but that is not how Wikipedia works. Imc (talk) 07:37, 11 October 2014 (UTC)
    • @Imc: I'm very well aware that the English name is a translation of the French name. That's precisely why it should be renamed to that, because that is precisely what it is called, and that is precisely the name we're supposed to use. Doctors Without Borders is the name of the organization in English, just as es:Estados Unidos is the name of the United States in Spanish, and how Germany is the name of, well, Germany in the English encyclopedia. You will note on the page that you link that they localize their name: they are es:Médicos Sin Fronteras in Argentina and other Spanish and Portugese-speaking countries, Doctors Without Borders in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Ireland, the UK, and the United States, de:Ärzte ohne Grenzen in Austria and Germany, Læger uden Grænser in Denmark, Γιατροί Χωρίς Σύνορα in Greece, ect. Note that they note that on the page you just linked to. The organization itself localizes and translates its name.
We call them the Russian Armed Forces and not Вооружённые Си́лы Росси́йской Федера́ции for the same reason. This is the English Wikipedia. We translate most names into English, unless the name isn't ordinarily translated. That's why the Ivory Coast is named such. The other language versions of Wikipedia all localize the name. We localize the name of other things which have common English names, as Doctors Without Borders does, which is a translation of their name into English which was done by the organization itself. On the very page that you linked to, they have the "Doctors Without Borders" name on their website. That's the term which they themselves use for their organization in English. They do the same in other countries. Per WP:EN, this is the name which should be used, because it is the name which is most frequently used in English, not only by news sources, but by the organization itself. On the website itself (which you linked to), they use Doctors Without Borders on the various English-language pages, while they use the abbreviation MSF. But they localize the name for all languages.
I was not aware that there had been previous discussion on the thing being moved or I wouldn't have put the request in the way that I did, but it wasn't recent. Titanium Dragon (talk) 09:14, 11 October 2014 (UTC)
Titanium Dragon, you say "We translate most names into English, unless the name isn't ordinarily translated." That's the answer then: in the English-speaking country I live in (the original one, as it happens) the name is not ordinarily translated.Saxmund (talk) 18:43, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
Ivory Coast is much argued about, since both names are used; the Cyrillic script is a red herring. —innotata 03:45, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose per WP:ENGVAR. Médecins Sans Frontières is the name this organisation is known by in English in much of the English speaking world; North America appears to be the exception. I am not familiar with either the policies of other language Wikis or the organisation's profile in those languages but in English this organisation is commonly known by the MSF name. As for all those place names mentiond this goes both ways. We have "Los Angeles" not "The Angels" and "Wagga Wagga" not "Crowstown". This has been subject to multiple RMs in the past because MSF is not "merely the French name" but is the name which the organisation is known in a large part of the English speaking world. Timrollpickering (talk) 11:32, 11 October 2014 (UTC)
    • @Timrollpickering: The organization itself uses MSF and Doctors Without Borders on its own webpage; it does not use Mediciens Sans Frontiers inline on its own webpage beyond one use on each page. "Most of the English speaking world" is questionable, given that most native speakers live in, well, the US, where they are called Doctors Without Borders. Moreover, not only is it a translation of their name, it is on their own website and used by the organization itself to refer to itself, along with MSF - this includes on the UK version of their website, as noted above. Per WP:EN, we use the name of the place in English. Los Angeles IS the name of the city in English; that's what everyone calls it. It is only very rarely and esoterically known as the City of Angels, and no one uses that as its primary name. The same is true of most things. I'm not sure where your argument is coming from.
    • They themselves use "Doctors Without Borders" and MSF on their webpage; they don't use Mediciens Sans Frotieres on their English versions of their webpages in inline text, and they have both names listed on top of the page in their logo. They localize it for every country. Titanium Dragon (talk) 03:41, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Procedural oppose this speedy move request; If the nominator cannot be bothered to place an actual reasoning in the nomination, it should be automatically rejected. Further procedurally, this cannot be done due to prior existing closed move requests on this very issue. -- (talk) 11:18, 11 October 2014 (UTC)
    • I did, it just didn't show up properly on the page and I don't know why. :\ And this isn't a speedy move anymore. But it should be moved (or I think so, at any rate). Titanium Dragon (talk)
  • Oppose UK news sources like the BBC always use Medicines Sans Frontieres - there are two here; two here (although to see one of them, you need to click the "Respirator" link in the "Protective Ebola suit" picture); on here; there are other pages too. --Redrose64 (talk) 18:14, 12 October 2014 (UTC)
    • Did you check out their own website, which uses both names? Or look outside of the UK? Because the (much larger) American press uses Doctors Without Borders. Their own webpage calls them Doctors Without Borders or the MSF inline on the English language version of the site. The other language wikis all call them by their localized name. Titanium Dragon (talk) 03:41, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. Is this the English Wiki? Why yes it is. I remember this group being called Doctors Without Borders in news dispatches from Afghanistan thirty years ago.--Froglich (talk) 05:18, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. It is the English WP and they use both names. If they only used one name, I'd say go with that. And their philosophy is one of inclusion, not exclusion. Also, Titanium Dragon is brave to try this. Well done, you. SW3 5DL (talk) 05:49, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Their official English-language website is, which very clearly carries only the name "Médecins Sans Frontières." The website is merely the website for the US branch. It uses both names. But, since "Doctors Without Borders" is used only in parts of the English-speaking world, and "Médecins Sans Frontières" is used in the entire English-speaking world, I say stick with what we've got. It is the official name of the organisation after all. Also, "MSF" is the only official acronym. Even the website uses "MSF USA" and not "DWB." In fact, I've never seen "DWB" used at all. -- (talk) 12:11, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
    • @ I agree as far as "MSF" goes (they don't use DWB as an abbreviation at all), but if you look at all their country websites, the countries where the English language is spoken all have "Doctors Without Borders" on them in the header/logo. All their other country websites localize the name as well; they seem to localize their name into every language, but they keep the acronym MSF pretty universally. Titanium Dragon (talk) 16:52, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. Titanium Dragon well enunciates the sound rationale in which I fully concur. Unless British people translate "Médecins Sans Frontières" to British English as "Médecins Sans Frontières", their familiarity with French is no excuse for calling it English. We are not exercising sound editorial discretion by alienating a large contingent of our English readership who are not bilingual to squelch English terminology that does not hinder any of our English readers who are bilingual.—John Cline (talk) 12:31, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Médecins Sans Frontières is certainly not "merely the French name for Doctors Without Borders". Axl ¤ [Talk] 12:33, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
Greetings Axl. May I ask: are you commenting as an English speaker, or as a Doctor of Medicine, who would perhaps be familiar with the term as professional jargon?—John Cline (talk) 12:44, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
@Axl: It is, though; their name quite literally means "Doctors Without Borders"; it is a direct translation (Mediciens = doctors, sans = without, Frontieres = borders). The organization was originally French, but they are now a multinational organization which localizes its name into at a large number of languages, including English; they use this name on their American website, and even the UK version of their page has "Doctors Without Borders" up on the top; all of their various international versions have their name localized into the local language. Titanium Dragon (talk) 16:48, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
To be fair, the US and UK websites don't just put "Doctors Without Borders" at the top - immediately above that it says "Medecins Sans Frontieres" - here are the US logo and the UK logo. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:45, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
John Cline, I am commenting as a Wikipedia editor. If you are interested in my professional experience, on the occasions when I have discussed the organization with colleagues, we have only ever described it as MSF or Médecins Sans Frontières. Of course, this is anecdotal "original research". Axl ¤ [Talk] 18:27, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
Titanium Dragon, the situation is actually the other way around. "Doctors Without Borders" is merely the English Translation of "Médecins Sans Frontières". Axl ¤ [Talk] 18:30, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
I'm aware of this fact, Axl. I don't see why it matters at all; it is the same name, just in a different language. Titanium Dragon (talk) 19:49, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose - "Doctors without Borders" is clearly shown as a subsidiary name on the website, "Médecins Sans Frontières" is the primary one, the way it is most commonly referred to in the UK, and, I am led to believe through discussions on this page and the Ebola Outbreak talk page how it is commonly referred to in other international varieties of English.Saxmund (talk) 18:53, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose Their common name in English continues to be Médecins Sans Frontières. —innotata 03:45, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Support DWB seems to be the common name in English by quite a margin, judging by searches for "doctors without borders is" vs "medecins sans frontieres is" in Google (555k vs 197k), Google News (700 vs 10), and Google Books (3.5k vs 1k). Calliopejen1 (talk) 23:31, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
What a strange search! Searching for "medecins sans frontieres" vs "doctors without borders" puts "medecins sans frontieres" well ahead (1,660,000 vs 292,000 in Google and 68,300 vs 37,600 in Google Books). -- (talk) 07:23, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
I did that search to ensure that the texts were in English. Your search may include non-English texts. Calliopejen1 (talk) 22:55, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
Google Ngrams: U.S. UK Both Art LaPella (talk) 14:15, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The French name is the common name throughout the world (e.g. the BBC uses it). Very rarely is it referred to anywhere by its English name. Except possibly in the United States, as previous experience in RM debates suggests they're not comfortable with using other languages. The rest of the English-speaking world is more open, however. -- Necrothesp (talk) 13:58, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
    Dear Mexican, is it true that in the U.S, they're not comfortable with using languages other than English? --Redrose64 (talk) 15:38, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
    Just commenting on my experiences at RMs, where the frenzied calls to translate everything into English no matter what almost invariably come from Americans. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:30, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose per very good reasons above; MSF is the widely used name in much of the English-speaking world and there is no need to localise to North American English for an international organisation. Andrew Gray (talk) 19:03, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose as Médecins Sans Frontières or its initials MSF is the WP:common name used in most of the world. For similar reasons, I'd also oppose renaming Fédération Internationale de Philatélie to International Philately Federation, Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile to International Automobile Federation, Union Internationale des Avocats to International Association of Lawyers, Union Cycliste Internationale to International Cycling Union, Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports to International Federation de Sports à Roulettes, ... Qwfp (talk) 20:14, 15 October 2014 (UTC) (replaced with my more serious and evidence-based argument below) Qwfp (talk) 10:57, 18 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment For all the people saying "Medecins sans Frontieres" is the common name in English, what evidence do you have to support this position? I was neutral coming into this and did some Googling and it appears that "Doctors without Borders" dominates English-language sources. I'd be glad to be persuaded but the opposes so far have cited basically no stats to support their opinions. Calliopejen1 (talk) 22:58, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
An "oppose" comment above notes that searching for "medecins sans frontieres" vs "doctors without borders" puts "medecins sans frontieres" well ahead (1,660,000 vs 292,000 in Google and 68,300 vs 37,600 in Google Books). -- (talk) 01:08, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
Except that search is not limited to English-language sources... And the source cited by Number 57 below is only a search for the terms used by the BBC (which is hardly representative of English-language usage generally). Calliopejen1 (talk) 23:05, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
  • See Art LaPella's Google Ngram searches above, remembering to sum the hits for "Médecins Sans Frontières" and "Medecins Sans Frontieres" (MSF). "Doctors without Borders" (DWB) has around 25% more hits than MSF in books published in the US, while MSF has roughly twice as many hits as DWB in books published in Great Britain. I'm not sure how meaningful the third search for books published in English in any country is, as I've been unable to find any information on whether Google's sample is representative of the number of books published in each country (I suspect not), but FWIW, MSF has around 30% more hits than DWB in that.
I also tried some NewsBank#Access World News searches of newspapers and others news sources from various English-speaking countries: Restricting to US sources, DWB has around 6 times as many hits as DWB ; in UK & Ireland, MSF has around 4 times as many as DWB, and in Australia+NZ around 50% more; in India they're neck-and-neck, as they are in South Africa. NewsBank doesn't have great coverage of the rest of Africa, but a combined search of other countries in Africa that have English but not French as one of their official languages (Botswana, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe) gave DWB about 40% more hits (dominated by sources based in Kenya, Sudan and Uganda for both search terms).
I'd say putting all that together provides good evidence that "no single term is predominant in English", indicating per WP:DIVIDEDUSE to "leave the article name at the latest stable version", i.e. 'Médecins Sans Frontières'. So my conclusion:
Oppose move. Qwfp (talk) 10:57, 18 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose MSF is the common name in the English language media. For Calliopejen1's benefit, BBC usage is 6,360 for MSF and 1,780 for DWB (and most of the DWB references appear to be translations of MSF rather than actually using it). Number 57 14:33, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Nope, even in Canada we use the proper name. Like the imperial system, we just have the odd straggler. - Floydian τ ¢ 15:39, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose and suggest list as a perennial proposal. Andrewa (talk) 13:39, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose: despite the pronunciation problems for the English palate, they still refer to themselves (and are referred to) by their French name.—Brigade Piron (talk) 15:17, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.
Please note that before the above request, at least a couple of requests to move this article to Doctors Without Borders had already failed, and the several associated discussions can be found in Archive 1. -- (talk) 10:38, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

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'Charities based in France' ?[edit]

Contrary to the article's Categories: tag, MSF's location is listed as Geneva, Switzerland. Beingsshepherd (talk) 04:42, 20 November 2015 (UTC)