French writers insulted by ‘growing attack’ on French language

By February 6, 2019 Language, News

French writers have expressed their distaste at the increasing prevalence of English words unnecessarily invading the French language.

A French book fair ‘Scène Young Adult’ at the Salon du Livre in Paris has drawn the ire of French authors, who say that replacing French words with English is “unbearable act of cultural delinquency”. Scene YA signs and displays read “Le Live”, “Bookroom”, “photobooth” and “bookquizz”, described as “sub-English knowns as globish”.

Well known writers such as Leïla Slimani, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Muriel Barbery and Catherine Millet all took great offence at English infiltrating their literary space and wrote an open letter published in Le Monde expressing their disappointment.

“In the streets, on the web … everywhere, in fact, English tends to replace French, little by little, at the speed of a word a day … But even at a book fair in France? In Paris, in a space dedicated to the book and to literature, is it not possible to speak French? For us, intellectuals, writers, teachers, journalists and lovers of this language from all walks of life, ‘young adult’ represents the straw that broke the camel’s back … This use of ‘young adult’, because it is referring to French literature, because it is deliberately addressing young French people looking for readings, is too much. It has become an aggression, an insult, an unbearable act of cultural delinquency.”

The writers appeal to the organisers of the book fair to exclude the English language when it is not strictly needed and appealed to the Minister of Culture to support their wishes, along with the Minister of Education. The ministers were urged to not allow a “single unnecessary English word” appear in schools. “French lessons must include the rediscovery and the reinvention of our language by students, who are today victims of a stupifying globish,” the letter says.

The authors and writers plead that the attack on the French language is “all the more pernicious because it is happening slowly”.

“We say to those who knowingly collaborate in this replacement that they are committing, either unknowingly or deliberately, a serious attack on a culture and a thought which spans millennia, and which is shared by nearly 300 million French speakers.”

Thanks to the writers passionate letter, the Salon du Livre website has been updated and there are no longer any references to a photobooth, a bookquizz or a bookroom.

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