French Senate bans inclusive language


Western Europe


Macron visited the Cite internationale de la langue Francaise on Monday. This place is dedicated to the French language and French-speaking cultures. Photo EPA, Christian Hartmann

The Senate voted on Monday for a broad ban on inclusive writing. They were encouraged by President Macron, who called for “not giving in to the spirit of the times.”

The French language should be “protected from the abuses of so-called inclusive writing”. That is the opinion of various right-wing senators, who tabled a bill for it. It got accepted by a large majority: 221 to 81. According to Senator Pascale Gruny, “inclusive writing weakens the French language by making it illegible, unpronounceable and impossible to teach.”

Senators particularly are discontent over words that carry a gender. For example, instead of ‘Senator,’ female senators could be called ‘Senatrice’.

The scope of the adapted bill is large. It plans to ban this practice “in all cases where the legislator (and possibly the regulatory authority) requires a document in French,” writes La Croix.

Opponents of the bill responded indignant. “Wanting to freeze the French language is to kill it”, said the Socialist senator Yan Chantrel. Mathilde Ollivier, a senator for the Ecologists party, mentioned the elephant in the room: “When we talk about inclusive writing, we are talking about the path towards gender equality.”

The right-wing senators got support from France’s president. According to Emmanuel Macron, the French language should be able to change over time. However, he said, "We must not give in to fashionable trends.”

Whether the bill becomes law remains to be seen. To be implemented, the National Assembly has to accept the legislation as well. The chances of that happening are a lot slimmer, given the large left-wing bloc there.



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