Inclusive writing: the Senate adopts a bill to ban it

A few hours after Emmanuel Macron recalled his attachment to the “foundations” of the French language, the Senate decided to vote on a bill aimed at “protecting” French “the excesses of so-called inclusive writing” by prohibiting its use. After very lively debates which revived the left-right divide, senators voted 221 votes against 82 for this text which makes it possible to prohibit the use of inclusive writing in a wide range of documents. However, there is no guarantee that this text will then be included on the agenda of the National embly, prior to its final adoption.

By coincidence, this decision came 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, giving a certain echo to the work of the senatorial right which gave gave rise to some heated debates in the hemicycle.

“We must allow this (French) language to live (…) but also keep its foundations, the bases of its grammar, the strength of its syntax, and not give in to the spirits of the times”, launched Emmanuel Macron at the mid-day in this Aisne castle. “In this language, the masculine is neuter, we do not need to add dots in the middle of words, or dashes, or things to make it readable,” added the head of state in a statement. barely concealed offensive towards inclusive writing.

Instructions for use, employment contracts…

The text from Les Républicains senator Pascale Gruny tackles this even more head-on: it plans to ban this practice “in all cases where the legislator (and possibly the regulatory authority) requires a document in French”. A wide range is targeted: instructions for use, employment contracts, internal company regulations, but also legal acts, which would then be considered inadmissible or void if the measure were to be applied.

Furthermore, the senators ask for a ban on “grammatical words” constituting neologisms such as “iel”, a contraction of “he” and “she”, or “celeux”, a contraction of “those” and “those”. “It is a practice which is precisely contrary to inclusion,” the rapporteur (attached to LR) Cédric Vial had pleaded with AFP before the vote. “The most impacted by its use are in fact people with disabilities and illiteracy, or those suffering from dyslexia.”

Adopted and even strengthened in committee on Wednesday, the text nevertheless aroused the indignation of part of the left. “It is an unconstitutional, retrograde and reactionary text, which is part of a long-standing conservative trend in the fight against the visibility of women,” is offended by socialist senator Yan Chantrel.

“Mortal peril” for the French Academy

In contrast, 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!” », Retorted Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of France Insoumise.

Described as a “mortal peril” by the French Academy, but conversely a tool for combating gender inequalities for its defenders, “so-called inclusive” writing designates, according to the Senate text, “editorial and typographical practices aimed at to replace the use of the masculine, when it is used in a generic sense, with a spelling highlighting the existence of a feminine form.”

For the rapporteur, there is for example “no problem” with the use of “double inflection” which aims to decline the feminine counterpart of a word, such as “the senators and the senators” instead of ” senators.” The famous midpoint, as in “senator.rice.s”, was clearly targeted. This is already banned in education by a 2021 circular from the former Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer.

The ban on inclusive writing currently exists in a 2017 circular, issued by former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. This “invited” ministers, “in particular for texts intended to be published in the Official Journal of the French Republic, not to use so-called inclusive writing”.

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