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Sparks fly as neutral pronoun included in French dictionary

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By THOMAS ADAMSON

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29 Comments
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The French take them selves to serious, over French culture,

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Can't wait for the Anglophone culture warriors to get triggered by French gendered pronouns.

Languages evolve over time. Where are your thees, thous and thines?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I will call them whatever they want because it doesn't hurt me and I am not a ****.

So, how would one refer to any androgynous person in France? il/elle?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

another stupid decision just to satisfy a minority and get a free advertisement all over the world...nobody will use that and wont be taught at French school thx God!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Languages evolve over time. Where are your thees, thous and thines?

Over time being the key point. Language doesn’t evolve over night. It isn’t forced. It’s usually happens unnoticed. None of this matches the wokeness plague currently engulfing France and other western countries.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As a native French speaker, I sit here wondering how much if the language structure will need to be changed in order to satisfy this tiny minority.

French is not like English, French is binary in every aspect of the language.

A table, a counter: une (female) table, un (male) comptoir.

On the other hand I will call these people anything they want as long as they so the same to me and quit using "cisgender".

It is interesting the these same people that complain about being given unwanted tittles and names then turn around and push one on the majority of the world's population because heterosexual and the idea that there actually are 2 biological genders offendeds them that much.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

None of this matches the wokeness plague currently engulfing France and other western countries

I say thee nay.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

This reminds me of the woke push for using "Latinx" in the US to refer to Hispanic people. It is a term almost universally ignored by Hispanics, yet is pushed by the media and the woke classes as being 'progressive' and 'inclusive'.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

FR: arbre (masc). PT: árvore (fem). Maybe one of them is trans?

FR: Un manche? Une manche? Bi?

Spoken Mandarin Chinese: tā (pinyin): he, she it (animate), it (inanimate). Non-binary?

Please, before people get their knickers in a twist, this is just a humorous look at the oddity of words.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Reckless: “It arrived at the cocktail party.”

You’d have to say “at the chickentail party”.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my native language, we already have a neutral pronoun, neutral adjective suffixes and the verbs are conjugated accordingly. But the neutral is used only for small kids and animals to show affection. When used for adults, it is rather diminishing and rude.

I wonder how the French are going to adjust the adjective suffixes and the verb conjugation to match iel. We live in strange times.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Non!

C’est incroyable!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It’s a weird situation. While I can understand the desire to have a non-gendered pronoun (it hurts literally nothing but the feelings of some easily triggered right wingers), it’s a more difficult concept for languages which have grammatical gender, as opposed to personal gender.

I can’t speak much to the French situation, but in German, grammatical gender is hugely important, as it determines endings and modifications to things like adjectives and doesn’t correlate to the actual or perceived gender of an object. The word for “girl” is neuter, after all.

The process works just fine in English because we lost grammatical gender centuries ago and we’ve had non-gendered pronouns since before Shakespeare.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Over time being the key point. Language doesn’t evolve over night. It isn’t forced.

People have bee forcing language change since as long as there has been language. Forced change is the reason we Americans spell it “color” and not “colour”, “honor” and not “honour”. And that’s because a single man named Daniel Webster arbitrarily decided it was easily to spell things that way. One guy. Overnight. Changed huge swaths of the English language that we no take for granted.

Heck, the word “terrific” has had its definition do a complete 180 in less than a human lifetime. Or did you think the reporter sobbing “It’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen” as the Hindenburg burned was weeping with joy at how pretty and wonderful it looked.

Languages have been artificially changed and modified for millennia. This isn’t some ‘woke’ phenomenon that only started when Obama got elected. We’ve been forcibly changing language since language began.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ReynardFox

We’ve been forcibly changing language since language began.

I agree.

Moreover I remember a few years ago there was another issue with french language regarding the use of plural. It explained that in the past the rules was about majority or proximity but at some point someone decided that the masculine form was to be the one to use. Then in a recent move that rule was challenged to go back to the ancient one as it was more natural.

And on that specific topic, the article clearly state that the inclusion of "iel" was the result of it gaining currency. So it is not coming out of the blue.

@Reckless

He/she/it

It arrived at the cocktail party.

As far as I know in that case you use "they" or "one".

They arrived at the cocktail party.

One arrived at the cocktail party.

@Antiquesaving

Cisgender doesn't replace heterosexual. It is just a way to explain you are neither transsexual nor queer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Languages have been artificially changed and modified for millennia. This isn’t some ‘woke’ phenomenon that only started when Obama got elected. We’ve been forcibly changing language since language began.

What a strange worldview.

Language evolves.

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@Strangerland

Yeah. Languages evolve and change. The distinction between what is considered “natural” evolution and “forced evolution” is an arbitrary one. How or why or in what timeframe a language changes is irrelevant. I was merely pointing out to him that sometimes a language’s evolution is the result of the conscious decision of a single person, as opposed to a progression spread over a wide range of peoples and times.

The color/colour divide shows how language can be affected not by ‘natural linguistic drift”, but by the politics and personal proclivities of individuals. The use of the ‘u’ in English spellings comes from the 1755 Dictionary of the English Language written by Samuel Johnson who, being a bit of a Francophile, and decided to standardize on more French-derived spellings. Daniel Webster was a linguistic reformist who wanted to make English spelling more intuitive by making spellings closer to their pronunciations. Words of his that didn’t survive included “laf” and “masheen” instead of laugh and machine. And he did away with the Frenchified spellings because he personally felt it was distasteful for English words to be “clothed with the French livery”.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And my “strange worldview” comes from the fact that my university background and work experience is in linguistics.

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ReynardFoxToday  12:00 am JST

People have bee forcing language change since as long as there has been language.

Agreed.

This isn’t some ‘woke’ phenomenon that only started when Obama got elected. We’ve been forcibly changing language since language began.

Totally disagree. People forcing language in the past for non-woke reasons does not mean this current language change is not for woke reasons.

Per the article:

Le Petit Robert introduced the word “iel” — an amalgamation of “il” (he) and “elle” (she) — to its online edition last month. While the term is gaining currency among young people, it is still far from being widely used, or even understood, by many French speakers.

One guy pushing forward the agenda of the vocal minority; a minority because as stated, it is not being widely used or even understood by many French speakers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

People forcing language in the past for non-woke reasons

Daniel Webster forcing change on the American standard spelling was that era’s equivalent of ‘wokeness’. It was rejecting the established system of spelling of the King’s English by a vocal minority (a minority of one, in this case) as part of that minority’s socio-political agenda. At the time, this was considered “woke” and caused quite a bit of consternation from people who accused Webster of butchering the language because he wasn’t much fond of the French and from people who perceived it as an American intentionally slighting the nation they had only recently gained independence from. Again, the idea of a person’s socio-political outlook changing language and having those changes be accepted is not a NEW phenomenon. Again, people have been changing languages for personal reasons since language began. The only difference between what Webster did and what some French people are trying to do is that Webster’s change stood the test of time enough that people (clearly) have forgotten just how controversial his reforms were at the time and said reforms have now become axiomatic. Will this change to French stand the test of time? Who knows. We’ll have to check back in a century. It might stick like “color” did or it might go the way of “masheen”. Only time will tell.

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ReynardFoxToday  12:00 am JST

And that’s because a single man named Daniel Webster arbitrarily decided it was easily to spell things that way. One guy. Overnight. Changed huge swaths of the English language that we no take for granted.

Making it easier to spell and ridding English of French clothing probably didn't result in the debates we see today in the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US when a small group tries to force new words on the populations.

ReynardFoxToday  03:21 am JST

Daniel Webster forcing change on the American standard spelling was that era’s equivalent of ‘wokeness’. It was rejecting the established system of spelling of the King’s English by a vocal minority (a minority of one, in this case) as part of that minority’s socio-political agenda.

Changing the spelling of words doesn't change the words' meaning though. And if someone continued to use the old spelling, say a teacher at a university, would there be protests and callings for him to be dismissed? And were those who used the old spelling ostracized, with the implications that they were deluded or wrong?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Making it easier to spell and ridding English of French clothing probably didn't result in the debates we see today

But yes, it did. Again, it was VERY controversial at the time and sparked a lot of debate between people who felt Webster was too much of an activist reformer who was going to destroy the English Language and those who felt that the language needed an update.

Changing the spelling of words doesn't change the words' meaning though

The French aren’t changing the meaning of any word. They are simply adding a new word. The he/her words remain unaltered and totally open to use. They aren’t replacing they current words. They aren’t removing them from existence. They are simply adding a single, new word for people to use or not use as they see fit. Webster did a much bigger number on English.

And if someone continued to use the old spelling, say a teacher at a university, would there be protests and callings for him to be dismissed? And were those who used the old spelling ostracized, with the implications that they were deluded or wrong?

I reread the article and I don’t see a single mention of people losing jobs or being ostracized for using il/elle. At this point, you’re just fantasizing about what you think might happen. I’m surprised you didn’t say they wanted to put all the il/elle folks into re-education camps. No one is saying you HAVE to use iel. No one is forcing anyone to use it. That’s your fevered imagination.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ReynardFoxToday  04:18 am JST

I reread the article and I don’t see a single mention of people losing jobs or being ostracized for using il/elle. At this point, you’re just fantasizing about what you think might happen.

Then you know the article was about a new word, and not new spelling or Daniel Webster. Or were you fantasizing ?

The French aren’t changing the meaning of any word. They are simply adding a new word.

If you read my comments, you see I mentioned the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US. Adding a new word like 'ze', or 'zir' are intended to replace "she" and "he" for example.

The article says 'iel' is to be used as a nonbinary pronoun. Talk about a fantasy!

No one is saying you HAVE to use iel. No one is forcing anyone to use it. That’s your fevered imagination.

Really? I guess you aren't aware of the woke, cancel culture and how importsnt language is associated with those movements. Language--not spelling.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/02/us/virginia-teacher-says-wrongfully-fired-student-wrong-pronouns-trnd/index.html

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that non-binary pronouns are replacing standard pronouns. They aren’t. That’s just what you’re telling yourself. No one is trying to take away your he/she. They are just adding non-binary pronouns. And I notice you brought up English neo-pronouns, and not, say, the non-binary pronoun “singular they”. Is it because neo-pronouns sound weird and seem alien, when in reality the overwhelming majority of non-binary people don’t use them, instead opting for the grammatically correct gender-neutral pronoun we have? And even if someone wants to use ‘so’ or ‘zer’ or what have you, they aren’t replacing he/she. It’s an ‘in addition to’ situation, not an ‘instead of’ situation. No one is going to follow you around and make sure you’re using zi/zer every time you speak. No one is doing that. No one.

I also find it interesting that the article you cited ISN’T about someone getting fired for not using gender-neutral pronouns. It’s about a teacher being fired for refusing to refer to a transmale student by male pronouns. And he didn’t cite linguistic integrity and not wanting to ‘change the language’ for his decision to misgender his student. He cited his religion. Meaning this wasn’t a case of someone being fired for not using ‘zi/zer’, it was a teacher being fired for violating the school’s non-discrimination policy that covered LGBT students. He wasn’t fired because he was a grammar Nazi. He was fired for being a transphobe. An important distinction you missed. The article itself states it wasn’t about the pronouns. It was about the fact that he was being transphobic and treating a trans student in a way that was inconsistent with creating an inclusive learning environment. If he’d called a cisgendered male “she/her” over and over, despite the student expressing discomfort, he’d have been fired too. He was fired because he was creating a hostile learning environment.

I’m gonna assume you used this off-target example because you couldn’t find an example of someone being fired for not using gender-neutral pronouns.

The article says 'iel' is to be used as a nonbinary pronoun. Talk about a fantasy!

Yeah, it’s gonna be used as a non-binary complement to il/elle, not as a replacement. No one is going to force you to call your wife “iel”. The sky isn’t falling, they aren’t taking away your il/elle/he/she.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It seems a bit clunky, which is why “personhole cover” never. replaced “manhole cover” in English. And then, if it is absorbed into English, we would get phrases like, “I’ll have the shrimp, and iel have the eel.” But it is up to the French to decide. To each iel own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Correction: To each iel’s own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It seems a bit clunky, which is why “personhole cover” never. replaced “manhole cover” in English.

I won’t disagree that it’s clunky. But it’s clunky for now. I’m sure it was clunky to say ‘flight attendant’ instead of ‘steward/stewardess’ for a bit there at the beginning. But people adapt. People get used to it. Like I said “terrific” has changed means to be the literal opposite of what it originally meant. It used to mean “awful, bad, atrocious” etc. the root word of ‘terrific’ is ‘terror’. Terrific is to terror what horrific is to horror. Terror/terrible/terrific, Horror/horrible/horrific. Or how “awesome” lost pretty much all of its negative connotations in the 80s. New things always feel clunky to start. I don’t know if iel will stick around, but who knows.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gendered languages like French are seen as a particular hurdle for advocates of nonbinary terms as all nouns are categorized as either masculine or feminine, unlike in English.

Why even push these terms in the first place?

AntiquesavingNov. 19  09:02 am JST

As a native French speaker, I sit here wondering how much if the language structure will need to be changed in order to satisfy this tiny minority.

Good insight. Glad to hear such a view with someone who has familiarity with French.

ReynardFoxNov. 20  02:00 am JST

And my “strange worldview” comes from the fact that my university background and work experience is in linguistics.

Linguistics? The you would have rudimentary knowledge on subjects such as dictionaries.

ReynardFoxNov. 20  03:21 am JST

Daniel Webster forcing change on the American standard spelling was that era’s equivalent of ‘wokeness’.

Daniel Webster? Did he compete with Noah Webster's dictionary?

http://www.webstersdictionary1828.com/NoahWebster

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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