Le breakdancing? French Olympic planners plot to finish the invasion of the English language

However for French officers, that generosity would not lengthen to the Video games’ official languages.

“The official languages of the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) are French and English — in that order,” mentioned l’Académie Française, the pre-eminent council for issues pertaining to the French language.

From left front row center: French Delegate Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu, President of the French National Olympic Committee Brigitte Henriques, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and President of the Paris Organizing Committee of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games Tony Estanguet hoist the Olympic flag marking the handover from Japan to the next Games in Paris 2024.

The French authorities has created a school of specialists dedicated to selling the nationwide language, at the side of a number of Olympic federations.

“The interpretation of tips will likely be essential,” mentioned Daniel Zielinski, a high-ranking official for the French language in sport and spokesperson of the committee. “As a result of if you find yourself a [French] athlete or a viewer, watching rollerblading or skateboarding, you do not perceive something the specialists are saying.”

Throughout their first assembly final January, the faculty agreed to start out engaged on its first two phrases: ‘breakdancing’ and when dancers ‘freeze.’ Numerous translations have been instructed thus far, together with ‘le breaking’ and ‘la frise.’

“As soon as a time period is made official, it turns into necessary,” mentioned Zielinski.

The group, composed of specialists and intellectuals from completely different fields, will meet periodically over the subsequent couple of years to establish and outline new sports activities phrases.

The IOC, whose position is to oversee and monitor the group of the Video games, just isn’t concerned within the mission.

“It’s not for the IOC to touch upon a governmental initiative however we applaud the target of making an attempt to make sport as accessible to as many individuals as potential via language,” the committee instructed CNN.

President of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee Tony Estanguet (L) and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (C) wave the Olympic flag to mark the handover.

The invasion of Franglais

The French battle towards the affect of different languages is not new.

In 1994, the Toubon regulation was handed, mandating the usage of French in all authorities publications, contracts and ads. But it contained a number of loopholes, which permit manufacturers and corporations to extensively use English.

Because of this, anglicisms have gotten extra distinguished, together with made-up phrases reminiscent of ‘footing’ for ‘operating’ and ‘baskets’ for ‘sneakers.’

Julie Neveux, linguistics professor at Sorbonne College in Paris, mentioned anglicisms are “typically estimated at slightly below 5% of the present lexicon, however they’re disturbing as a result of they present that we observe an financial and cultural mannequin aside from our personal.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (C) speaks past French President Emmanuel Macron (second L) during a visit of the building site of the Olympic Village in Saint-Ouen on October 14, 2021.

They’re significantly current in sports activities competitions and occasions, throughout which athletes from world wide are used to speaking in English.

“Sport was one of many first areas to be globalized,” mentioned sports activities historian Michael Attali. “This phenomenon has imposed English because the official language.”

Attali added the media and sports activities federations are additionally in charge, as they relay anglicisms by not “making the hassle of translating them.”

A pointless battle?

Regardless of their greatest efforts, no committee has efficiently prevented English from infiltrating on a regular basis language. By the point French officers have agreed on a translation and its definition, the English model has already unfold all through the nation.

“Related assemblies have been put in place up to now, however nothing has modified thus far,” mentioned Attali. “In soccer, we nonetheless use phrases reminiscent of ‘nook’ for nook kick, as an alternative of its official translation, and that won’t cease anytime quickly.”

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As soon as the only real official language of the Olympics, the language of Proust and Dumas has taken a again seat as the usage of English has soared in current a long time.

In protest, the French authorities has despatched a delegate to every Olympics for the reason that 1996 Atlanta Video games, tasked with assessing the place of the French language on the occasion.

Nonetheless, athletes and commentators alike have continued utilizing English terminology.

A crowd during the Olympic Games handover ceremony on August 8, 2021 in Paris.

In her report on the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Video games, former delegate Fleur Pellerin famous “the presence of the French language (had) been inadequate on the competitors subject.”

“The rising significance of English as a global language of communication and work, the preponderant affect of English-speaking funders and elected officers in worldwide sport and within the Olympic Video games, and the inadequate coordination of the French-speaking sport neighborhood contribute to explaining this evolution,” learn the report.

Spokesperson Daniel Zielinski says he’s not “dogmatic” in the case of this new committee’s potential. He solely hopes their initiatives will “encourage watching and working towards these sports activities, for individuals who need to do them.”

The French exit

If English is now the popular language of athletes and commentators, French has had a long-lasting affect on the world of sport.

Ballet stays flooded with French phrases, reminiscent of ‘pas de bourré,’ ‘arabesque’ and ‘chassé.’ In the beginning of each fencing match, the French crucial ‘Allez’ — which means ‘Go’ — is utilized by referees.

Even the time period ‘sport’ originates from the Previous French phrase ‘desport,’ which means ‘leisure.’

“There are far fewer anglicisms in French than there are French phrases in English,” mentioned Neveux, including these exchanges shouldn’t be seen “as a risk.”

“All dwelling languages exist by borrowing from one another, it’s an asset. Languages solely exist due to their impurity.”

However, for some, this impurity is perceived as a hazard to the French identification.

French Elite acrobatic team Patrouille de France flies over the Eiffel Tower during the Olympic Games handover ceremony.

Because the official guardian of the French language, the Académie Française continues to intently hold observe of the variety of English phrases which have crossed the border.

Their web site has a piece devoted to “Neologisms and Anglicisms,” through which they advise towards improper English phrases like ‘trials’ as main competitions strategy.

“The French language conveys the French soul,” Jean-Marie Rouart, writer and member of the Académie Française, instructed CNN. “It conveys on the similar time French universalism, tolerance and a priority of magnificence and aesthetics.”

The Académie is a key member of the Olympic language committee. However whether or not the mission finally succeeds — or fails — its mission of eradicating English phrases within the French sporting area, Rouart has little hope for the language he has spent a long time defending.

“In twenty years, French will likely be a lifeless language and will likely be studied the way in which Latin and Greek at the moment are,” he mentioned.


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