'A crime against culture': French writers outraged by 'sub-English' takeover at Paris book fair

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 4 Feb, 2019 Updated Mon 4 Feb 2019 18:14 CEST
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Dozens of French writers and intellectuals have condemned the apparent overuse of simplified English to promote an upcoming book fair in the French capital, calling it “an unbearable act of cultural delinquency”.


A special event at the famous Salon du Livre book fair in March titled "Scène Young Adult", has been slammed by a group of more than a hundred writers and journalists for featuring words such as “photobooth”, “bookroom”, “bookquizz” and “le Live” on its stands and promotional posters. 

"Is it no longer possible to speak French at a fair in Paris devoted to books and literature?” the group mused in an opinion piece published in Le Monde.

They claim the linguistic gaffe illustrates the spread of “Globish”, a term trademarked by French engineer Jean-Paul Nerrière to describe a type of “sub-English” non-native English speakers use in the context of international business.

"For us intellectuals, writers, teachers, journalists and lovers of the French language, (Young Adult) represents the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of our indulgence, our fatalism at times," wrote the authors of their column.

“This usage of the English term ‘young adult’, it’s referring to French literature and directly addressing young French people who are looking to read, this is too much.

“It’s become an aggression, an insult, an unbearable act of cultural delinquency.”

The group, including writers of the likes of Tahar Ben Jelloun, Jean-Louis Fournier, Jean Michel Guenassia and Leila Slimani called for the people behind the event to “exclude any English terminology when it isn’t essential".

"We know that this is not only a question of fashion, of chic modernity, we know very well that the reason for it is basically business and marketing, linguistic imperialism to better sell same products ", they argue.

"We’re asking that France’s Minister of Culture take care of this, with much more commitment than he does currently, in terms of ensuring the defense and respect shown towards the French language.”

The event is set to take place March 15 to 18.

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The Local 2019/02/04 18:14

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