Inclusive writing: the Senate adopts a bill to ban it

Published on Oct 31, 2023 at 9:46 am

“Deadly ideology” or “path to equality”? The Senate voted late Monday evening for a very broad ban on inclusive writing after lively discussions, encouraged by Emmanuel Macron who said he feared seeing the French language “give in to the times”. On the day of the inauguration by the President of the Republic of the International City of the French Language in the restored castle of Villers-Cotterêts, the coincidence of the calendar gave a certain echo to the work of the upper house.

The senators adopted, by 221 votes to 82, a right-wing bill aimed at “protecting” French “from the abuses of so-called inclusive writing”. Its perimeter is wide. It plans to ban this practice “in all cases where the legislator (and possibly the regulatory authority) requires a document in French”, such as instructions for use, employment contracts, internal company regulations. Also covered are legal acts, which would then be considered inadmissible or void if the text were to become law, which nothing currently ensures because its inclusion on the agenda of the National embly is far from guaranteed. .

Midpoint, “iel”, “celles”

In Aisne, Emmanuel Macron set the tone at midday, defending “the foundations” of the language, “the bases of its grammar, the strength of its syntax” and inviting us “not to give in to the spirits of the times “. “In this language, the masculine is neuter, we do not need to add dots in the middle of words, or hyphens, or things to make it readable,” added the head of state in a little masked offensive towards the famous “midpoint” – as in “sénat.rice.s” -, one of the aspects of inclusive writing.

The text of Senator LR Pascale Gruny tackles this head-on and goes even further. It also prohibits “grammatical words” constituting neologisms such as “iel”, a contraction of “he” and “she”, or “celles”, a contraction of “those” and “those”. “Inclusive writing weakens the French language by making it illegible, unpronounceable and impossible to teach,” attacked Pascale Gruny. His colleague Etienne Blanc denounces a “deadly ideology”.

Outraged environmentalists and socialists

The environmentalist and socialist benches responded with indignation. “The senatorial right is inflicting its retrograde and reactionary whims on us,” was offended by socialist senator Yan Chantrel. “Wanting to freeze the French language is to kill it. » “When we talk about inclusive writing, we talk about the path towards gender equality,” argued ecologist Mathilde Ollivier.

This divisive debate has even gone beyond the Luxembourg Palace. The president of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, explained on the X network (formerly Twitter) that she wanted to “protect” the French language “ against wokism whose inclusive writing is a sinister and grotesque manifestation.” “The French language is a successful creolization” and it “belongs to those who speak it!” », replied Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of LFI.

“Madam Senator”

“So-called inclusive” writing designates, according to the Senate text, “editorial and typographical practices aimed at replacing the use of the masculine, when it is used in a generic sense, with a spelling highlighting the existence of a feminine form. Unconvinced, the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak judged some “excessive” measures on the extension to private contracts, and estimated that the “role” of the State and the legislator was “not to be a language police but to guarantee equality in the face of language.

While taking care to address “Madame Senator Gruny”, she rendered an “opinion of wisdom” on the Senate text, neither favorable nor unfavorable, recalling that two circulars already regulate this practice in the texts published in “ Official newspaper ” ( circular from Edouard Philippe in 2017 ) and in teaching ( circular from Jean-Michel Blanquer in 2021 ).

The debates revealed several disagreements. The right ures, for example, that it would remain possible to use “double inflection” which aims to decline the feminine counterpart of a word, such as “the senators and the senators” instead of “the senators”. What the left refutes. Yan Chantrel estimated that the current wording of the text would render obsolete all identity documents published in the old format, which included the words “born on” for the date of birth. What the right has denied.

Source AFP

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