French Language Gives Up Male Linguistic Dominance

French language

The feminist wave is doing wonders in France as the official guardians of the French language welcomed ‘feminisation’ of work titles on Thursday. The officials have finally allowed feminine work titles for all women professionals after decades of conservative attitude by Academie Francaise which polices the language and did not allow progression to happen. It said on Thursday there was now “no obstacle in principle” to the wholesale feminisation of job titles.

With the change showing up, female French doctors will now be called “docteures” and teachers as “professeures” in its official dictionary. It currently lists the wife of a head of state as “presidente” rather than a female leader of a country.

As it happens, in most other parts of the world, France also referred to its female workforce with the titles rendered to its male workforce except a few professions like nurse and child-minder. While the Academie Francaise fiercely advocated against the feminization of language, called the ‘inclusive writing’ an “aberration” which would put the French language “in mortal danger”, but in a historic event last evening it approved a report advocating change compiled by three of its four active female members.

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“The Academie considers that all developments in the language aimed at recognising the place women have in society today can be envisaged,” it declared. The revolution calls for a more organic usage by saying that it “did not wish to dictate the rules by which titles should be feminised,” saying it would be an “insurmountable task.” The Academie accepted that the use of the –eure ending in docteure, for example, “does not constitute a threat to the structure of the language as long as the final ‘e’ was not pronounced.”

Female French doctors will now be called “docteures” and teachers as “professeures” in its official dictionary.

“For some professions it is simple,” said Writer and academy member Frederic Vitoux, who heads the Commission for the Enrichment of the French Language. “We have never had to ask ourselves should we be able to say ‘actress.’ But for other professions, there are objective difficulties because they cause confusion or don’t work with the root of the word.

“How, for example, can we say a female doctor (medecin in French) without confusing it with ‘medecine’ (the science of medicine)?” Vitoux asked.

While France welcomes feminisation of language now, the official language body in French-speaking Canada ruled on the issue in 1979, urging feminisation wherever possible. A female doctor there can be called “une medecin” or “une docteure.”

Picture credit- bbc.com

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