The Académie Française

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The Académie Française

Post by tocyvi on Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:13 pm

The Académie Française, the Stasi of the French language world, has decided that 'asap' is not a suitable term for use by native Gallic speakers. Now I'm all for attempting to keep some sort of standard in language, even though I still slip up with my apostrophe, semi-colon and over-use of the ubiquitous comma. However, I do think there is something of the Canute in an organisation which feels that language starts and ends with Molière. The language of Shakespeare is wonderful and bears much re-reading but it is reminiscent of the ostrich to suggest that we should continue with "thou", "thee", "wert" and so on. Language moves with the times and, arguably, is enriched because of it.

To me, there is something more troubling about an organisation of some 40 members (especially one which is known as "The Immortals"!!) which feels it has the right to rule by diktat the language used by 60 million people in France alone.

The ultimate irony, however, is that they feel that "asap" is an ugly acronym. Acronyms are seldom beautiful but they do fulfil a purpose. It is a lot quicker to say "asap" that it is to say the words in full. But the irony is that France seems to have a love affair with acronyms and yet the A/F seems blind to that particular idiosyncrasy. I suspect it is more concerned about Franglais creep than the acronym itself.
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Re: The Académie Française

Post by peirol on Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:13 pm

I think you are right, it's the Engish words creeping in which upset the AF - and there are even laws requiring those advertising their wares, for instance on menus, to do so in French (hence the asterisks at the bottom with French translations. Just as well that they think that "sandwich" is a French word!). But in the end language is a tool for communication, and if people find it easier to say "email" than "courriel", that is the word they will use, whatever the Académie wants.

Having said that, I do understand why the French feel the urge to protect their beautiful and mellifluous language. It just sounds so lovely, even on those occasions when it is difficult to understand! And sometimes, I do wish that we had an organisation which would discourage anglophones from using words like "upcoming" (meaning "forthcoming") and - my latest bugbear - "purposefully" (when they actually mean "deliberately"). I don't see myself as a 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' type, but the BBC journalists often have me spitting feathers!

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Re: The Académie Française

Post by tocyvi on Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:51 pm

peirol wrote:I do wish that we had an organisation which would discourage anglophones from using words like "upcoming" (meaning "forthcoming") and - my latest bugbear - "purposefully" (when they actually mean "deliberately"). I don't see myself as a 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' type, but the BBC journalists often have me spitting feathers!

Hi Peirol. I agree wholeheartedly. I also have my pet hates:

- "gobsmacked" which is a horrible word and used by a lot of people who should know better, and

- starting a reply with "so", when asked a question, as in

Q. Why did the BBC not investigate the complaint about .........
A. So we looked at the implications of .............

Like you, I don't see myself as 'Mr Angry of Steeple-Bumpstead-next-the-sea' but I regularly shout at the TV and have been known to threaten to write in the strongest possible terms to........In retrospect, perhaps I am Mr Angry of Steeple-Bumpstead-next-the-sea'
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Re: The Académie Française

Post by Amber on Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:02 pm

One that makes me shout at the T.V. is "almost exactly" - NOOO! It's either "almost" or "exactly", it can't be both. Evil or Very Mad 

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Re: The Académie Française

Post by redburmese on Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:54 am

Glad i only have french tv then ,makes you learn the french swear words  Rolling Eyes 
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Re: The Académie Française

Post by Myriam on Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:39 pm

This is going off-topic, but:

Most of us forum members probably went to school in an era where it was important to learn to speak and write a language correctly.

In my experience the majority of both young British and Dutch people can no longer spell or count and no-one seems to be worried about it...
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Re: The Académie Française

Post by Amber on Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:10 pm

I'm not sure it's the majority because I think there are a lot of young people who are perfectly literate and numerate, but we don't hear about them - in the same way we never hear about the ones who don't do drugs, or binge drink, or fight or steal etc., etc.

On the other hand, from what I know of French education it seems obsessed with conjugation and grammar and making all students rigidly study the same thing at the same time without allowing for individual differences. The youngsters I have taught English to appear to find it very difficult to be imaginative in 'free thinking' (for want of a better expression.)

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Re: The Académie Française

Post by tocyvi on Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:32 pm

Amber wrote:I'm not sure it's the majority because I think there are a lot of young people who are perfectly literate and numerate, but we don't hear about them - in the same way we never hear about the ones who don't do drugs, or binge drink, or fight or steal etc., etc.

Hi Amber. This is so very true. There are millions of young people who are lovely, law-abiding, generous, well-balanced, friendly and caring individuals. Unfortunately these do not make news. There is no great story in "Thousands of Young People Commit No Crime For Years". However, should one errant teenager go off the rails, there will be many newspapers queuing up for the scoop of the day. To be fair, it is the prurient readers that must take the responsibility for that. A good example is the recent case of Hollande who made a "State of the Nation" speech today; reports from the media suggest that reporters were more interested in his love life than his economic plan.
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Re: The Académie Française

Post by tocyvi on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:23 am

Going back to the language issue, the one thing that I hate hearing, is the upward inflexion at the end of every sentence, which makes every statement sound like a question. There was an article on this in the Guardian yesterday and the comments were, almost without exception, of the same mind. One of my young nieces does it and virtually every sentence ends up as an interrogative.
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Re: The Académie Française

Post by Inkflo on Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:10 am

I think we have the Aussies to thank for that.
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Re: The Académie Française

Post by Amber on Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:11 pm

Or not, as the case may be! I think you're right Inkflo - Aussie soaps (or should that be "Aussie soaps?" Laughing )

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Re: The Académie Française

Post by redburmese on Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:28 pm

Holland has a economic plan !!!!!!!
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Re: The Académie Française

Post by Myriam on Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:17 pm

Holland (as in Netherlands) or François Hollande?
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