French politicians are protesting against the dictionary’s use of non-binary pronouns

Politicians object to the inclusion of a major French dictionary of a gender-neutral pronoun “iel”, claiming it defiles the language.

French dictionary Le Robert has updated its online dictionary to include the non-binary pronoun iel, similar to the gender-neutral “them” in English, after its researchers noted increasing use of the pronoun in recent months, Reuters reported.

However, legislators and the French government have been opposed to making changes to the language.

“Inclusive writing is not the future of the French language,” said Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquersaid in a tweet Tuesday.

The French legislator François Jolivet from the La République en Marche party was also against the gender-neutral pronoun and said in a tweet that “Its authors are therefore militant of a cause that has nothing to do with France: #wokism.”

“The Petit Robert, a dictionary we thought was a reference, has just integrated the words ‘iel, ielle, iels, ielles’ into its website, Jolivet added.

Jolivet also wrote a strongly worded letter to the Academie Francaise, the guardian of the French language, saying that the introduction of the words “iel, ielle, iels and ielles” is the forerunner of the “awake ideology” that would destroy French values, reported Reuters.

Le Robert CEO Charles Bimbenet issued a statement on the inclusion of “iel” and said the dictionary decided to include it after a statistical analysis showed an increasing frequency in the use of the word.

He added that Le Roberts’ mission is to “observe and report on the development of a French language in motion, diverse.”

Iel – a combination of male and female pronouns “il” and “elle”, meaning “he” and “she” in French – was added to the dictionary in October.

In 2017, the Académie française unanimously voted that inclusive writing “is a deviation that poses a deadly threat to the French language and for which the nation will have to account to future generations”.

In February this year, the French parliament introduced a draft bill calling for a ban on the use of gender-neutral language among civil servants and officials, and inclusive writing in schools was banned by the government.


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