The French pride themselves on being progressive, but even they aren’t having it!
They are kicking back hard against the de-evolution of their language by woke gender theorists. It all started when one of France’s most esteemed dictionaries, Le Petit Robert, added a wholly manufactured word “iel” (pronounced roughly “yell” in english), which is a ham-handed mixture of “il” (he) and “elle” (she), to its most recent online edition. That country’s most important leaders are seeing this addition as an attack on French heritage itself.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, France’s education minister, protested “You must not manipulate the French language, whatever the cause.” Even The New York Times could not ignore how offensive this was to the French, explaining “Mr. Blanquer is seemingly convinced of a sweeping American ‘woke” assault on France aimed at spreading … gender discord.” Brigitte Macron, the nation’s first lady clearly agrees, “There are two pronouns: he and she” adding “Our language is beautiful. And two pronouns are appropriate.”
Her husband, French President Emmanuel Macron, sees it even more negatively. The New York Times quotes Macron explaining “certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States” may be a threat to French culture. Even the left-wing French newspaper Libération described this degendering of their language as “The Highway to Iel” in a headline.
The French are profoundly proud and passionately protective of the purity of their beloved language, it being an intimately masculine/feminine-binary language. In fact, the Académie française, was founded in 1634 to protect the French language and remains an ever-present guardian of its purity ever since. In fact, the secretary-in-perpetuity of the Académie, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, holds this trendy genderless modification of language, “is not only counterproductive for that cause [of equality] but harmful to the practice and intelligibility of the French language.”
François Jolivet, a more moderate lawmaker in France, said in an interview with The New York Times, “when you legitimize words, you legitimize thoughts.” He is precisely correct, adding that this move by the leading French dictionary, motivated by pressure from the United States, is “a manifest ideological intrusion that undermines our shared language” and “results in a defiled language which divides its users rather than unites them.”
Another leading French dictionary, Larousse, derisively called the new “iel” a “pseudo pronoun.”
Words matter and to be meaningful, they must refer to actual things. There is no such thing as a non-binary or genderless person. To be human is to be male or female. This is one of the most fundamental facts of what it means to be human. As the celebrated French feminist philosopher Sylviane Agazinski explains in her foundational book, Parity of the Sexes,
“One is born a girl or boy, one becomes a woman or man. The human species is divided into two and, like most other species, in two only. This division, which includes all human beings without exception, is thus a dichotomy. In other words, every individual who is not man is woman. There is no third possibility.”
Or at least that was common knowledge until yesterday and the United States should stop trying to foist this falsehood on other nations. Thankfully, it appears the French are not keen to buy into this lie. Americans could use a dose of French courage.
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