SpecGram Vol CXC, No 3 Contents Letters to the Editor

In the Immortal Words of les Immortels...

A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Quite the tempête has been brewing recently in France’s théière: members of the Académie Françaiseunironically self-styled as les immortelshave decreed that a particular style of writing French, which is designed to be more inclusive and less sexist, so badly butchers the language that it is an existential threat to French itself. That seems a little pre·cious·tentious, but would one expect any less from a group calling themselves “the immortals”?

Nathalie Rossi-Gensane, 2017, “Des normes d’usage pour des usages non normés ? L’exemple de certaines con­struc­tions déta­chées en rupture”, in Colette Feuillard (ed.) Usage, norme et codifi­cation. De la diversité des situations à l’utili­sation du numér­ique, EME Éditions.

Chiasmus of the Month
June 2021

The arguments on either side of the rédaction épicène notwithstanding, the point that all linguists of good conscienceor, at least, of decent font collectionshould agree with is that the reporting in the English-language press is a tra·umatic·gic typographic travesty.

As reportedin English, mind youthe idea is to combine French masculine and feminine forms, such as amis and amies, into one inclusive whole using “midpoints”, resulting in forms like ami.e.s. (The argument against such usage is that it is hard to readespecially for dyslexics and those who use screen readersand thus does harm to the learning of French. But ultimately that is neither t·here.)

Where to start cleaning up this poorly trans·lated·cribed mess? It is clear that midpoint is a p·iss·oor translation of point médian, the French name for the punctuation mark known variously in English as a mid·dle·dot or interpunct. It is also most decidedly not a lazy l·ow·evel punctuation mark like a period. G·ood·rief! So, of course, the correct form of amis + amies is ami·e·s, with those lovely, ele·gant·vated·ctrifying middots.

As for the pr·c·o·s·ns of l’écriture inclusive and the response to it, it is unlikely that any dec·is·larat·ept·ion from the Immor·t·als will actually des·troy·tabilize·alinate the French language. But since they are trying to blame the entire si·tu·mul·ation on the English languageand we still owe them for 1066 and all that—so I say, whatever they get, they des·erv·ecrat·quamat·e!

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CXC, No 3 Contents