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Thursday, 4 February 2010

Frenchifying French or ridding the language of Anglicisms

The French are at it again - or so it would seem.

Someone appears to "have the hump" with the number of English words creeping into everyday use in France and wants to try to put a stop to it.

This time around it's the junior minister for Cooperation and Francophony (snappy title that) or Coopération et de la Francophonie (as it's called in French), Alain Joyandet.

He has launched a competition aimed at finding French alternatives for five pesky English words that have obviously got on someone's nerves somewhere along the lines.

The culprits? "Talk", "chat", "newsletter", "buzz", and "tuning" all of which are apparently used too often in French as far as the minister is concerned in the field of "nouvelles technologies" - that'll be IT to English-speakers out there.

The competition - catchily called "Francomot" - was launched a couple of weeks ago but there are still a few days left until the February 7 deadline for entries.

Now you might think that this is a case of French officialdom getting more than little uppity about the language of Moliére or perhaps it's bit of fun - albeit pointless - to try to put a stop to the number of Anglicisms that have crept into everyday use here.

But as the minister reminds us on the official website, French, along with English, is the only language spoken on all five continents.

That apparently is reason enough for wanting to protect it from the invasion of those horrid Anglicisms as "This universality is a sign of dynamism and liveliness" visitors to the site are told.

"It's therefore essential that the hundreds of thousands of French speakers can help contribute to keeping the French language alive and innovative" (an interpretation of what's written rather than a word-for-word translation).

Although Francomot is aimed primarily at school children and students, the minister will surely be grateful for any French improvements that others might feel able to suggest.

If you want to enter, you can check out the official website to find out more and then send your proposals for each of the five words by "voie électronique"... an even more cumbersome French way of saying "courriel" or "email".

A jury, headed by France's ambassador to Senegal, Jean-Christophe Rufin, will choose the best entries and the winners will be announced at a special ceremony on February 17.

Just don't question whether any of the words will eventually make their way into everyday usage.

Good luck.


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