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French government bans English tech jargon for gamers

French officials on Monday continued their centuries-long battle to preserve the purity of the language, overhauling the rules on using English video game jargon.

French government bans English tech jargon for gamers
A young gamer plays Xbox during the Paris Games Week exhibition at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

While some expressions find obvious translations – “pro-gamer” becomes “joueur professionnel” – others seem a more strained, as “streamer” is transformed into “joueur-animateur en direct”.

The culture ministry, which is involved in the process, told AFP the video game sector was rife with anglicisms that could act as “a barrier to understanding” for non-gamers.

France regularly issues dire warnings of the debasement of its language from across the Channel, or more recently the Atlantic.

Centuries-old language watchdog the Academie Française warned in February of a “degradation that must not be seen as inevitable”.

It highlighted terms including train operator SNCF’s brand “Ouigo” (pronounced “we go”) along with straightforward imports like “big data” and “drive-in”.

However, despite their efforts English words and phrases are rife in everyday chat in France, particularly when in tech and social media settings.

The Academie française’s regular efforts to introduce new French terms are often met with indifference or ridicule – the most notorious example being when they tried to replace le wifi with l’access sans fil à internet (wireless access to the internet). It did not catch on. 

READ ALSO 5 things to know about the Academie française

Monday’s changes were issued in the Journal officiel, making them binding on government workers.

Among several terms to be given official French alternatives were “cloud gaming”, which becomes “jeu video en nuage”, and “eSports”, which will now be translated as “jeu video de competition”.

The ministry said experts had searched video game websites and magazines to see if French terms already existed.

The overall idea, said the ministry, was to allow the population to communicate more easily.

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