The Guardian, today (my emphasis):
Noting that Trump had also pulled the US out of the Paris climate change accord – another commitment of the Obama administration – Macron said such frequent changes in the US position on global issues “can work in the short term but it’s very insane in the medium to long term”.
Did Macron really mean to call Trump’s policies insane, that is crazy, indicative of a serious mental disorder?
No. Gratuitous insults to a head of state you want things from are stupid and counter-productive, and Macron is not a fool.
I’m sure that he was self-translating “insensé”.
The online Larousse dictionary gives the meaning as:
Qui n’est pas conforme au bon sens, à la raison : Projet insensé.
The correct English is therefore “senseless”. That’s still rude, but not a personal attack.
Macron’s English is very good, though not quite as good as he thinks. My French is excellent – not boasting, just a fact, I worked with it for 32 years. But neither of us are immune to mistakes, especially of nuance, and most especially of nuance in hard words. Consider the minefield around “nigger”: now completely taboo for non-black English speakers, but I understand acceptable ironically between black friends. Foreigners wouldn’t guess that French “con” is somewhat less offensive than “pute”, while the reverse is true of their English equivalents.
There is a good reason why the interpreters and translators who work for foreign ministries, embassies and international organisations are highly paid and equal in status to administrators. It is very hard to get translations of sensitive material exactly right, and Google Translate is not there yet by a long chalk. *
* Google Translate suggests the literal and meaningless “pas par une longue craie”. The fixed phrase “loin s’en faut” does the job, but I don’t know a more picturesque idiom. It has the advantage of the disapproval of the stuffy and idle Académie Française.