France - Language

Forget your 'franglais'! French officials warned

The venerable Académie Française, a centuries-old institution regarded as the guardian of the French language,  has warned state officials against encouraging the spread of "franglais", saying it could have dire consequences for the future of the language.

Comedian Paul Taylor has a successful show using franglais.
Comedian Paul Taylor has a successful show using franglais. Facebook Paul Taylor

L'Académie francaise, established in 1635 to defend the purity of the French language, said in an official statement that Thursday that while it had never been hostile to the introduction and use of foreign terms, it was "deeply worried by the development of franglais".

The academy complained that a 1994 law (the Toubon law) that insists on the use of French in all government publications, commercial contracts and advertisements, was being "repeatedly violated" by an "invasion of Anglo-Saxon terms".

Franglais (from the French words for French and English, "francais" and "anglais") is the mixing of spoken French with English words, either for effect, humour or because the speaker believes an English word can express the idea better.

Despite the Toubon law, words like "brainstorming", "afterwork" "background" can regularly be heard in French media and public life.

The academy called on "public institutions to respect the law themselves in the first place".

"If they do not react vigorously and if public opinion does not take into account the extent of the danger that we are facing, French will then cease to be the living and popular language that we love," it said.

The academy did not specify the target of its criticism.

Macron defends French language

In recent years, French people have taken to spicing up their conversations with English words, even on occasion saying "yes" instead of the French "oui".

French President Emmanuel Macron, unlike all his immediate predecessors, speaks English fluently and confidently gives entire speeches in the language.

Despite his ease, the President has been keen to present himself as a defender of the French tongue, generally using French in speeches at home and taking care not to slip into too much franglais.

In March last year, Macron unveiled plans to get more people speaking French, saying it was a truly global language and of particular importance in Africa.

The Collectif Langue Francaise which defends the French language has launched operation  "vendredi fou" (crazy Friday) on 29 November. Representatives from Belgium, Canada, France, Maghreb and Switzerland will protest the encroachment of French by English in Francophone countries.

(with AFP)

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