Does the French language take time to undertake inclusive writing?

They take on 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 neutral pronoun iels, used to refer to a person of any gender, and the Mx title to replace sir or madam with a non-binary person.

Marie-Philippe Drouin is part of the duo that presides over Divergenres, an organization that supports 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 are in a hostile universe. Indirect violence in newspapers, anti-trans speech, hate messages on social networks.

His daily life is marked by a mixture sweet Nothing; between invisibility and microaggressionshe 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 agreements to talk about me. I get intrusive questions. I am asked to do the intellectual and emotional work of explaining my existence. »

a quote from Marie-Philippe Drouin, of the administrative co-chair of Divergenres

French for 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 the French language acts as a laggard when it comes to inclusive writing. if we compare with Nordic countries like Scandinavian countries.

Denmark, for example, has already incorporated a neutral gender into the language after a pilot project carried out with children since [la garderie] until adulthood. Now these adults don’t even realize it was a pilot project of theirs when they were little, meaning they incorporated it [le genre neutre] naturally. »

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

According to him, popular or institutional culture hinders or delays the incorporation of this form of writing into the French language. Not everyone is ready to accept that we change the languagehe said.

Institutionally, the Académie française resists changes towards standardized inclusive writing, he adds.

The same goes for Nikita Kamblé-Bagal, a doctoral student who is preparing a thesis on inclusive writing at the University of Ottawa.

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

Photo: Nikita Kamblé-Bagal

One of the reasons inclusive writing takes time to become the norm is the refusal to change, she says. Many people say inclusive writing makes language unreadable because you add new signs, new wordsshe says. Studies conclude that inclusive writing does not overload texts.

She points out that several new signs have been added to the French language, including the sharp (the hashtag).

The first occurrence of a new word can delay reading. It is true, we are not used to reading it, but from the second occurrence, our reading speed returns to normal. »

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

She notes, however, some progress in Ontario and Quebec. In Ontario, at the political level, I’m starting to see more and more inclusion in the texts I read. […] also at universityobserves the researcher.

In addition, to ensure equal representation between men and women, some organizations choose to incorporate the feminization of words, which makes writing more inclusive.

This is the case of the Positive Action organization. We use the midpoint (participants) as prescribed by the rule. As far as pronouns and agreements are concerned, the choice is more up to people.says Director General Michel Lussier in writing.

Epicene words, that is, words whose form does not vary according to gender, may be used preferentially. For example : secretary Where medical team 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 responsible for the organization’s communication.

Mx Drouin fights for society to recognize gender diversity, mainly through inclusive writing. Iel says this is a political struggle and more and more people are interested in it. We get a lot of training requests. Increasing interest, whether for conferences or panels, linguists and translatorshe says.

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