The growing presence of English words in the French business world has pushed some French officials to highlight the importance of localization for the preservation and quality of French language.
On March 18th, Annick Girardin, French government’s Minister of Development and Francophony, set her heart on showing how much the growing presence of English words in the business world is damaging to the French language.
To do so, she wrote a letter to all “those playing a role in the professional world”, pointing out with humor how much the French language tends to be polluted by English words.
This publication is part of a long haul initiative taken by the French government to inspire businesses and administrations to train people in French rather than solely in English and to encourage professionals to use all the tools and media available to bring French back to life, both as an international language and as a business language.
Influenced by its high preservation in Canada, she intended her letter to be a reminder that the French language is a treasure for France and that everyone has a part to play to make sure it keeps its authenticity and specificity.
Here is an excerpt of the letter, emphasis is ours:
“Soyons clairs, je n’ai rien contre le fait de drafter des to-do list, de benchmarker sans retenue, d’établir des process par confcall et de forwarder le tout avec entrain, mais j’ai un vrai feeling : cette langue française est une chance, un atout qui mérite d’être exploité”.
Whether she will reach her goal with her sense of humor is debatable, as is the linguistic protectionism of France, a country where the almost 400 years old literary institution called Académie Française (French Academy) is supposed to tell us which words we are allowed or forbidden to use.
Actually, most linguists agree that, as long as foreign imports remain at below 15 to 20% of a language, they don’t threaten it but rather rejuvenate it. As France has a history of moderate linguistic purism, with the steady integration of words from foreign origin, we can assume that Annick Girardin is not going to win this battle!
French represents a very large share in the localization industry and it is still in expansion, since many of the 80 French-speaking countries are still growing fast.