Le breakdancing? French Olympic planners plot to end 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,” stated l’Académie Française, the pre-eminent council for issues pertaining to the French language.

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

“The interpretation of methods can be essential,” stated Daniel Zielinski, a high-ranking official for the French language in sport and spokesperson of the committee. “As a result of when 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 begin engaged on its first two phrases: ‘breakdancing’ and when dancers ‘freeze.’ Varied translations have been instructed to date, together with ‘le breaking’ and ‘la frise.’

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

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

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

“It’s not for the IOC to touch upon a governmental initiative however we applaud the target of attempting to make sport as accessible to as many individuals as potential by means of language,” the committee advised 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 commercials. But it contained a number of loopholes, which permit manufacturers and firms to extensively use English.

In consequence, anglicisms have gotten extra outstanding, together with made-up phrases resembling ‘footing’ for ‘operating’ and ‘baskets’ for ‘sneakers.’

Julie Neveux, linguistics professor at Sorbonne College in Paris, stated anglicisms are “generally estimated at just below 5% of the present lexicon, however they’re disturbing as a result of they present that we observe an financial and cultural mannequin apart 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,” stated sports activities historian Michael Attali. “This phenomenon has imposed English because the official language.”

Attali added the media and sports activities federations are additionally guilty, 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 to date,” stated Attali. “In soccer, we nonetheless use phrases resembling ‘nook’ for nook kick, as a substitute 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 many years.

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

Nevertheless, 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 discipline.”

“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 terms of this new committee’s potential. He solely hopes their initiatives will “encourage watching and practising these sports activities, for many 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, resembling ‘pas de bourré,’ ‘arabesque’ and ‘chassé.’ At the start of each fencing match, the French crucial ‘Allez’ — which means ‘Go’ — is utilized by referees.

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

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

“All residing 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 id.

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 carefully 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, creator and member of the Académie Française, advised CNN. “It conveys on the identical 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 undertaking finally succeeds — or fails — its mission of eradicating English phrases within the French sporting enviornment, Rouart has little hope for the language he has spent many years defending.

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

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