“Faced with the aberration of ‘inclusive writing’, the French language finds itself in mortal danger,” condemned a statement written by L’Académie de la langue française.
The “inclusive language” they were referring to was writing “directeur(trice)s” rather than “directeurs” in the case of a gender-mixed board of directors, since the masculine form always takes precedence over the feminine form, even when there is only 1 man among 50 women.
If you ever wondered why this grammar rule exists in French, it is because, in 1647, the grammarian Claude Favre de Vaugelas argued that “[the] masculine gender, being more noble, must predominate whenever the masculine and feminine find themselves together.”
In the past four centuries, no one questioned it. Until they did, and the Académie screamed bloody murder.
If that’s considered “inclusive language,” then what are the relatively unknown pronouns “iel”, “ielle”, “ul”, “ol”, and so on, considered? How do you even accord adjectives and nouns to them?
L’Office québécois de la langue française, on the other hand, has been much more progressive and suggested that we “mix” the feminine and masculine forms of nouns together. For example, “frœur” or “freure” would refer to “sibling”. For verbs, we could replace the endings with the letter “T”, or the letters “ae”, for example, “ul est aimeT” or “ol est bien entourae.”
I’ll be honest with you: I’m a francophone agender, and I have no idea how to pronounce that.
Nonetheless, I am happy that Québéc is at least trying to be respectful towards non-binary identities. I’m also very (pleasantly) surprised, as I had never heard of this before today. That is because people tend to classify this language as “too complicated” and most don’t even know it exists.
Even health-care professionals are either unaware of the existence of these gender-neutral variants or simply do not know how to use them.
This is why non-binary people tend to feel more respected and validated among anglophones, and are more prone to seek services in English instead, even if their native language is French.
How ironic is it then that L’Académie de la langue française threw a fit and announced that “inclusive language” was putting the French language at risk when the real reason that the French language is losing support is due to its transphobic nature?
I’m not saying that the French language is a hopeless cause, though!
Personally, I believe the best gender-neutral pronoun would be “xl” and noun/verb endings should end in “x”, as this phenomenon can be seen in the English language with the popularization of the spelling “womxn” to designate all non-men.
“L’auteurx est fatiguéx d’être unx extraterrestre.”
Okay, it may look a bit weird, and there’s the debate on how it would be pronounced, but I’m sure we can all agree that it’s much simpler than the solution provided by L’Office québécois de la langue française, and it’s inclusive to all gender identities.
Before this grammar can become widespread, however, we must first dismantle the patriarchy. Yes, I know how this may sound to the conservatives reading this, but hear me out.
The reason that the masculine form takes precedence over the feminine form is because of the patriarchy. The reason L’Académie voted against allowing for “inclusive language” to bypass this outdated rule is because of the patriarchy that is so clearly still very influential. L’Académie was founded in 1635, but the first woman only joined in 1980. It has since only had 8 female members in total, compared to 721 male members it has had in total.
When a group of conservative white men literally holds power over an entire language, obviously they will make it their duty to uphold the status quo, since it is the status quo (the patriarchy) that has given them this power in the first place.
So, how do we dismantle the patriarchy? It’s easy, use “inclusive language” in your daily life. If everyone were to write articles in “inclusive” French, regardless of L’Académie’s decisions, this organization would stop being so influential.
I know, I’m a hypocrite; I’m writing this article in English because I hate French, and, in a way, I’m letting the patriarchy win by doing this. Or, maybe I’m just allowing French to die, dismantling the patriarchy by refusing to write in my native language as long as it does not offer any gender-neutral variants.
The way you decide to dismantle the patriarchy is open to interpretation. Just do something, even if that something is nothing.
By Genderless Alien