Quel dommage! French Ban, Rename Podcasting

Mar 24th, 2008 | By | Category: Commentary, General

The French have always been careful guardians of their long-lived and vibrant culture. But in recent decades, the globalization of communication, commerce, and technology has brought about an influx of unwelcome, widely-used English terms. People look forward to le weekend, and surf le web.

Fed up with the creeping anglicization (is that even an English word?:) of la langue Francais, French linguists at the Academie Francaise – the body responsible for protecting culture through the French language – have come up with equivalents to more than 500 mostly English words for a new language website, being run by the culture ministry’s “General Commission for Terminology”.

Among the offending foreign words being banned from French utterance: WiFi, previously pronounced oui-fee (now acces sans fil a l’internet), e-mail (courriel) and (gasp) podcasting, derived from the very not French iPod (now called diffusion pour baladeur).
The sixty-five page list covers many non-technological terms as well, including words for coach (entraineur) and carry-out/take-out food. A whole page is devoted to the podcasting vocabulary.

It remains to be seen whether these new terms will be widely adopted among the general French population. We are reminded that when a few xenophobic elected officials suggested that Americans reject French foods, cultural icons, and vocabulary earlier this decade, U.S. potato lovers across the country did not rush to call them “freedom fries, ” as was suggested. The shared vocabulary of our increasingly connected world will probably continue to grow — even if some of the terms (supermodel, monetize, long tail) are annoying in any language.

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