Growing Fears as English Words Continue to Invade French Language

France has always been exceptionally proud and protective about the French language, but there are signs that this tradition of Francophone pride may be fading. For many years, the Académie française has been leading initiatives in an attempt to prevent so-called ‘Anglicization,’ i.e. trying to keep Anglicisms (English words and phrases) from infiltrating the French language. However, it seems that their efforts are no longer paying off as much, at least judging by the new English words recently added to France’s two biggest dictionaries, “Le Petit Robert” and “Le Petit Larousse.”

Among this year’s additions, one can find more than a small number of such Anglicisms. In fact, this year’s dictionaries now include nine new words that come directly from the English language, including queer, SUV, hacktivism, clubbing, fashionista and detox. Many Anglicisms come from the world of technology, where the English language still dominates. This can be seen in words like chat bot, dark net and startup, all of which were also officially added to French dictionaries.

For many French language experts, the problem of growing Anglicization or Franglais comes down to laziness. Although French equivalents for many new words do exist or new French equivalents could potentially be created, many French speakers insist on using the English words instead. This has led some French language proponents to basically give in and conclude that these new words do indeed belong in the dictionary since people are using them so frequently.

Others feel that trying to create new French equivalents for the various Anglicisms is nothing more than trying to fight a losing battle. In fact, the only result is that new ‘ridiculous French terms’ are created that no one ends up using anyways. In this sense, it seems that there may not be much that can be done to keep these creeping Anglicisms at bay.

Even the French government now seems mostly resigned to this fact. Despite French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent plan to boost the French language in hopes of making it the third most spoken language in the world, the man himself is famous for interspersing his speech with various Anglicisms such as ‘le brainstorming’ and ‘le co-working.’ He has even referred to France as ‘une start-up nation,’ while his aides often refer to Macron as ‘Le Boss.’

All of this has led to fears that the French language may soon lose some of its charm or become more simplified and lose much of its nuance. Still, this problem of Anglicization isn’t just a problem for France, as all across the world, globalization has seen a huge raft of new English words invading almost every language.

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