“In order that French Institutions Speak French”, reads the opening line of a new report from the Académie française, in thunderous capital letters.
The organisation has issued a damning verdict on the “massive use of English vocabulary” in institutional communications in France, describing this as a “veritable attack” on the French language.
“By neglecting the cultural load of language, current communication puts the French lexicon in peril,” wrote the authors.
The Académie française, created in 1635, is charged with protecting and preserving the French language.
Its report has examined the use of English in institutional communication, from government, businesses and other organisations.
“Using French vocabulary, French phrases, whatever the context, without blindly following fashion and trends, remains the best way to add value to French culture in the broadest sense, offering it support, visibility and a fighting chance facing the advance of globalisation,” it said.
The authors cite the following examples as “damaging” and “degrading” to the integrity of the French language:
La French Tech
La French Tech is a term to describe the French start-up scene. The government – and president Emmanuel Macon – have been pushing French start-ups internationally since 2015, which is perhaps why they use this English-sounding label.
The strategy appears to be working – France now counts at least 26 start-ups known as unicorns (licornes), which means they are valued at more than $1 billion.
It turns out that the Académie is really not a fan of the word ‘start-up’ either.
The Académie does not like the brand name, TasteFrance, given to a selection of French gastronomic products sold overseas in a scheme supported by the agriculture ministry.
It also railed against Taste France magazine, Tastefrance.com, la Foodtech and le Paris Food Forum.
FranceConnect is a handy online platform through which you can access your Ameli (French public health system) account; your personal tax page; your profile with the French postal service and much more.
Which it is convenient to access all these services at once, the Académie said the name is too English sounding. Even if connecter is an actual French verb.
Made for Sharing
Paris will host the Olympic games in 2024. Much to the distaste of the Académie and politicians on the right of the political spectrum, the slogan itself will be in English: “Made for Sharing”.
The co-President of the Games, Tony Estanguet, said that the choice of an English slogan was designed to “give a universal character to the French project”.
The slogan, L’Amour des Jeux (Love of the games), had reportedly been floated beforehand.
Here We Com
A communications agency in the Savoy is named Here We Com. Despite the ingenious name and funky website, the Académie is not happy.
Smart city is a term that has been used by urban planners, academics and energy providers for years. EDF, the French electricity provider, defines it as “the fruit of many models and examples which slowly but surely define intelligent towns of tomorrow” and use the term in their advertisements.
Not a smart move, according to the Académie.
France is in the air
In 2014, Air France changed their slogan from Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre (To make the sky the most beautiful place on earth) to an English one: “Air France, France is in the air”.
Not only is the latter phrase glib and unpoetic, but it has also drawn the wrath of the Académie.
No one really buys music any more, ever since the rise of the streaming service.
The Académie singled out the French company Napster for using terms like streamez and playlist, in its promotional material.
You can find the Académie’s full list of taboo terms here.