Is the French language slow to embrace inclusive writing?  – Radio Canada.ca

Is the French language slow to embrace inclusive writing? – Radio Canada.ca

They face the challenges of integrating inclusive writing into the French language.

*Radio-Canada has chosen to respect the choice of identity of individuals in this text and therefore uses the neuter pronouns iels, used to refer to a person regardless of gender, and the title Mx to mean Monsieur or to substitute Madame for a person who is not binary.

Marie-Philippe Drouin is part of the duo that runs Divergenres, a support organization for trans, binary and non-binary people.

For iel, the importance of inclusive writing lies in the challenges iel faces as a non-binary person: we live in a hostile universe. Indirect violence in newspapers, anti-trans discourse, hate messages on social networks.

His everyday life is characterized by a not at all sweet mixture; between invisibility and microaggressions, he says.

Microaggressions that can take direct or indirect forms.

“People don’t know I’m non-binary [sans que je le leur dise]. They use the wrong pronouns, the wrong conventions, to talk about me. I am asked intrusive questions. I am asked to do the intellectual and emotional work to explain my existence. »

— A quote from Marie-Philippe Drouin of the Administrative Co-Presidency of Divergenres

French towards more inclusive writing, slowly but surely

Karim Achab is Professor of Linguistics and French as a Second Language at the University of Ottawa. He believes that the French language lags behind in terms of inclusive writing when we compare it to Nordic countries like the Scandinavian countries.

“Denmark, for example, has already introduced a neutral gender into the language after a pilot project that has since been carried out on children [la garderie] until adulthood. Now these adults don’t even realize that it was a pilot project when they were little, ie they integrated it [le genre neutre] in a natural way. »

— A quote from Karim Achab, Professor of Linguistics and French as a Second Language at the University of Ottawa

According to him, popular or institutional culture hinders or slows down the assimilation of this written form into the French language. Not everyone is willing to accept that we are changing the language, he says.

Institutionally, the French Academy is resistant to changes towards standardized inclusive writing, he adds.

The same is true for Nikita Kamblé-Bagal, a graduate student working on a dissertation on inclusive writing at the University of Ottawa.

Nikita Kamblé-Bagal is a PhD student supervised by Anaïs Tatossian in the Department of French at the University of Ottawa. She is interested in inclusive writing because it’s a hot topic.

Photo: Nikita Kamblé-Bagal

One of the reasons inclusive writing is taking time to become the norm, she says, is a reluctance to change. A lot of people say that inclusive writing makes language unreadable because you’re adding new characters, new words, she says. Studies conclude that inclusive writing does not weigh text down.

She points out that several new characters have been added to the French language, including the hashtag.

“The first occurrence of a new word can slow down reading. It’s true, we’re not used to reading it, but from the second occurrence our reading speed returns to normal. »

— A quote from Nikita Kamblé-Bagal, a student at the University of Ottawa

However, she notes some progress in Ontario and Quebec. In Ontario, on a political level, I’m noticing more and more inclusion in the texts I read […] also at the university, the researcher notes.

Additionally, to ensure equal representation of men and women, some organizations choose to feminize words, resulting in a more inclusive spelling.

Such is the case with the Action positive organization. We use the midpoint (participant) as required by the rule. As for pronouns and conventions, the choice is more up to the people, writes director-general Michel Lussier.

Epicene words, i.e. words whose form does not differ according to gender, can be used preferentially. For example: secretary or medical staff instead of nurse.

At Divergenres, we prioritize epicene writing, and when that’s not possible, we use a clever mix of truncated spelling (dot or midpoint) and non-binary neologisms, writes Marie-Philippe Drouin, also head of communications for the organization.

Mx Drouin fights for society to recognize gender diversity, particularly through inclusive writing. Iel says this is a political fight and more and more people are becoming interested in the issue. We receive many requests for training. More and more interest, whether for conferences or panels, linguists and translators, he says.