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Sparks fly as neutral pronoun included in French dictionary | Entertainment



Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer is not in the same camp. He went to Twitter on Wednesday to say that “inclusive writing is not the future of the French language.” The 56-year-old former law professor warned that schoolchildren should not use “iel” as a valid term despite its inclusion in Le Robert, seen as a linguistic authority on French since 1967.

Francois Jolivet, a lawmaker from President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, also made his distaste plain. Nonbinary pronouns are, he suggested, a worrying sign that France is embracing a “woke” ideology.

Jolivet wrote a letter to the bastion of French language, the 400-year-old Academie Francaise, claiming that Le Robert’s “solitary campaign is an obvious ideological intrusion that undermines our common language and its influence.”

The general director of Le Robert editions, Charles Bimbenet, jumped to the dictionary’s defense Wednesday in a statement. Far from dictating which terms should be used, he said, Le Petit Robert was elucidating the word’s meaning, now it is growing in currency nationwide.

Since “the meaning of the word iel cannot be understood by reading it alone,” Bimbenet said, “it seemed useful to us to specify its meaning for those who encounter it, whether they wish to use it or … reject it.”

“Robert’s mission is to observe and report on the evolution of a changing and diverse French language,” he said.



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