The French government considers that inclusive language, which incorporates a feminine suffix in a masculine noun through a dot, constitutes an obstacle to the learning of students and should not be used as an alternative for the feminization of the language.
The circular of the Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, stressed this week that the adoption of this type of language modifies the respect of the rules of concordance “usually expected in the framework of teaching programs”. He also argued that “it constitutes an obstacle to the comprehension of writing”, in addition to affecting reading aloud and pronunciation, since it is not possible to transcribe this type of spelling orally.
Blanquer stressed in this text, published on Wednesday in the Official Gazette, that, contrary to what the inclusive adjective might suggest, children with certain disabilities or learning disabilities are particularly affected.
For the minister, the learning and mastery of French “contribute to the fight against stereotypes and ensure equal opportunities for all students”, something that should not be penalized by this language whose “complexity and instability” are presented as an obstacle to this goal.
It does advocate, however, the promotion and use of the feminization of certain terms, especially positions, “while respecting grammatical rules”. Inclusive language had been advocated in France in feminist circles for whom masculine language is not neutral and implies an “invisibilization” of women.
However, the French Academy of Language took a clear position against it in October 2017, considering it an aberration, and in November of the same year the then prime minister, Édouard Philippe, ordered to ban it in official texts and minutes.
Blanquer now recalled that these “feminization rules” dictated then are already being applied in administrative documents, and called for the grammatical and syntactical rules in force to be respected in the educational framework as well. His circular included a new position also this Wednesday from the Académie française.
“At a time when the fight against sexist discriminations involves combats against conjugal violence, wage disparity or harassment, inclusive writing, although it seems to participate in this movement, is not only counterproductive to this cause but detrimental to the practice and intelligibility of the language,” concluded the French Academy.