French politicians object to dictionary’s use of nonbinary pronoun


Politicians are objecting to a major French dictionary’s inclusion of a gender-neutral pronoun “iel,” claiming that it sullies the language.

French dictionary Le Robert has updated its online dictionary to include the nonbinary pronoun iel, similar to the gender neutral “them” in English, after its researchers noticed growing usage of the pronoun in recent months, Reuters reported.

However, lawmakers and the French government have been opposed to making any changes to the language. 

“Inclusive writing is not the future of the French language,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquersaid said in a tweet Tuesday.

French lawmaker François Jolivet, from the La République en Marche Party also opposed the gender-neutral pronoun and said in a tweet that “Its authors are therefore militants of a cause that has nothing to do with France: #wokism.”

“The Petit Robert, a dictionary that we thought was a reference, has just integrated on its site the words “iel, ielle, iels, ielles,” Jolivet added. 
Jolivet also penned a strongly worded letter to the Academie Francaise, the guardian of the French language, and said the introduction of the words “iel, ielle, iels and ielles” is the precursor of the “woke ideology,” which would destroy French values, Reuters reported.
The managing director of Le Robert, Charles Bimbenet, issued a statement on the inclusion of “iel” and said that the dictionary decided to include it after a statistical analysis showed an increasing frequency in the usage of the word.
He added that Le Robert’s mission is to “observe and report on the evolution of a French language in motion, diverse.”

Iel — a combination of male and female pronouns “il” and “elle,” which means “he” and “she” in French — was added to the dictionary in October.

In 2017 the Académie française, unanimously voted that inclusive writing “is an aberration that poses a mortal threat to the French language and which the nation will need to account for to future generations”. 

In February this year, French Parliament tabled a draft bill calling for a ban on the use of gender-neutral language among government officials and civil servants, and inclusive writing in schools was banned by the government. 

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