France’s education ministry rejected leftist demands to radically feminise the French language in schools, which supporters claimed would have fostered a more gender-inclusive society.
Leftists in France have increasingly targetted the grammatical structures of the language itself, with many adding the feminine “e” to the end of words that would not normally have it. The activists claim that by feminising the words, they are making women more “visible”.
France24 explained the grammatical changes put forward by the left, as thus:
Take the generic French word for leaders – ‘dirigeants’ – for example. For some, that masculine spelling suggests that they are generally men and makes women leaders invisible, because it lacks a feminine ‘e’ toward the end. For proponents of inclusive writing, a more gender-equal spelling is ‘dirigeant·es,’ inserting the extra ‘e,’ preceded by a middle dot, to make clear that leaders can be of both sexes.
The education ministry rejected these calls, banning the use of the modified language in schools, claiming that it would represent an existential threat to the language of Molière and indeed to French society as a whole.
Speaking before a Senate hearing on the issue on Thursday, Deputy Education Minister Nathalie Elimas said that introducing left-wing ideology into the structure of the language “is a danger for our country” and could ultimately “sound the death knell for the use of French in the world”.
Ms Elimas said that changing the traditional form of the French language would make learning more difficult, particularly for those with learning disabilities.
“It dislocates words, breaks them into two,” she said. “With the spread of inclusive writing, the English language – already quasi-hegemonic across the world – would certainly and perhaps forever defeat the French language.”
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One proponent of the feminised French, Socialist Senator Laurence Rossignol, claimed that opponents of changing the language “are the same activists who were against marriage for people of the same sex, medically assisted reproduction, and longer abortion windows … It’s the new banner under which reactionaries are gathering.”
While the Education Ministry did reject the feminist-preferred “e” from the school curriculum, it did accept that some job titles, such as “présidente” instead of “président”, could be appropriate for female occupants of such professions.
The author of a French-language guide on inclusive writing, Raphael Haddad, celebrated the shift as a victory for his cause, saying: “What’s happening to the France language is the same thing that happened in the United States, with ‘chairman’ replaced by ‘chairperson,’ (and) ‘fireman’ by ‘firefighter.’”
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In contrast to the French leftists, those in the United States have more recently been pushing against gendered language full stop. This has included attempts to adopt the phrase “Latinx” rather than the gendered Latino or Latina when referring to Hispanic people.
The new lingo has come as something of a surprise to many Hispanic people in America, as only three per cent have ever used the term Latinx, according to Pew Research. The findings went on to say that “some felt Latinx is an unnecessary ‘anglicism’ of the Spanish language, or ‘not representative of the larger Latino community’”.
There has been increasing pushback in France against leftist ideology, which many see as an import from woke academia in the United States, though it ultimately has its roots in European Marxist traditions, including from radical French thinkers such as Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault.
In January, Breitbart London reported that students at one of France’s top schools, Sciences Po University, raised concerns over the woke ideology being spread on their campus through works by American leftist figures such as Ibrahim X. Kendi and White Fragility author Robin D’Angelo.
More recently, a group of former French military officials signed a letter in April warning of the potential of civil war in France amid the growth of radical Islam and the proliferation of far-left ideologies.
“Today, some talk about racialism, indigenism, and decolonial theories. But through these terms, it is a race war that these hateful and fanatical partisans want. They despise our country, its traditions, its culture, and want to see it dissolve by ripping off its past and history,” the letter read.
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