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Introducing a new French pronoun

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

The addition of the gender neutral ‘’iel’’ pronoun – a combination of ‘’il’’ and ‘’elle’’ – to the online Robert dictionary made the news in France (where else?), a couple of weeks ago.

Rather than focus on the expected backlash it caused, I chose and article from Libération, written by a teacher whose students raised the topic with her – as a conversation starter with my own.

Interestingly enough, the new French generation doesn’t seem bothered by the new addition, nor by people who neither identify as ‘’elle’’ or ‘’il’’.

As I tell my students, when you learn a language, you get an insight into the culture and psyche of the country. This is also true about any changes made to it, whether official or not.

However much certain French politicians and the Académie Française would like to control the way French people speak, they’re forgetting the fact that a language isn’t set in stone and simply cannot be, because it’s a living thing.

Don’t hesitate to send me your questions

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