French dictionary accused of ‘awakening’ because of a gender-inclusive pronoun | France


A French reference dictionary defended its official recognition of a gender-inclusive pronoun, after traditionalists pounced on what they called the latest foray into American-inspired “wokeism.”

While the daily use of “iel”- a neologism combining the French words for he and her (“he” and “she”) – remains largely anecdotal for now, critics consider it a linguistic affront that must be banned.

The Minister of Education denounced the maneuver of the Petit Robert dictionary, supporting a lawmaker’s request that French-speaking tutors at the Académie française to weigh.

“Inclusive writing is not the future of the French language”, Jean-Michel Blanquer tweeted. “Our students, who consolidate their basic knowledge, cannot have that as a reference,” he added.

The controversy is the latest example of a setback in some French quarters against cultural theories about race and gender that have been adopted by younger generations in particular.

Critics see them as American imports aimed at pitting people of different identities against each other, undermining French ideals of unity and equality.

“This type of initiative sullies our language, and ends up dividing its users instead of bringing them together”, wrote François Jolivet, the legislator of the centrist party of Emmanuel Macron who calls for the ban by the Academy.

But the director of Robert’s denied any militant motivation, saying his specialists had seen an increase in the use of “iel“for several months.

“The Robert hasn’t had a sudden, serious case of ‘waking up’ – a word we promise to define soon,” said Charles Bimbenet. “It seemed useful to me to specify the meaning for the people who cross it, if they want to use it or, on the contrary, reject it. Defining the words used in the world helps us to understand it better.


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