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

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However for French officers, that generosity would not prolong 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.

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, together with a number of Olympic federations.

“The interpretation of tips will likely be essential,” stated Daniel Zielinski, a high-ranking official for the French language in sport and spokesperson of the committee. “As a result of if you end up 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.’ Varied translations have been steered 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 totally 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, will not be 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 attainable 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 legislation 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 firms to extensively use English.

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

Julie Neveux, linguistics professor at Sorbonne College in Paris, stated anglicisms are “typically estimated at slightly below 5% of the present lexicon, however they’re disturbing as a result of they present that we comply with 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 notably current in sports activities competitions and occasions, throughout which athletes from all over the world 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 responsible, as they relay anglicisms by not “making the trouble 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 prior to now, however nothing has modified to date,” stated Attali. “In soccer, we nonetheless use phrases comparable to ‘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 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 area.”

“The rising significance of English as a world 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 isn’t “dogmatic” with regards to this new committee’s potential. He solely hopes their initiatives will “encourage watching and practising these sports activities, for many who wish 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, comparable to ‘pas de bourré,’ ‘arabesque’ and ‘chassé.’ Firstly of each fencing match, the French crucial ‘Allez’ — that means ‘Go’ — is utilized by referees.

Even the time period ‘sport’ originates from the Previous French phrase ‘desport,’ that 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 because of 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 intently preserve monitor of the variety of English phrases which have crossed the border.

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

“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 in the end 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 will likely be a useless language and will likely be studied the best way Latin and Greek are actually,” he stated.

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