fifty million french people: right or wrong?

I was interested in this article: “In a Nonbinary Pronoun, France Sees a U.S. Attack on the Republic

(First of all, the idea that anybody, on any side of any “culture war” in the United States, is thinking, even for a minute, about the effect their opinion might have on the French… Well, that’s just adorable. 🙂 )

I’m all for maintaining rules for language (“farther” and “further” are not interchangeable, for one example), but if someone or something new, or previously unseen, exists in the world, languages need to evolve. Pronouns (and words in general) should adapt to people, not the other way around.

Also, if someone wants to be addressed by a specific name, or described with a specific pronoun, to do otherwise is simply rude.

(I am not, obviously, including situations of deliberate fraud. I remember there was a guy years ago who checked into various fancy New York hotels and ran up big bills while pretending to be David Bowie. That’s not okay.)

I also have never liked the idea that “when it comes to the choice of pronouns for groups of women and men, the male form takes precedence over the female; and when it comes to adjectives describing mixed gatherings, they take the masculine form.” Likewise the practice, which I learned in school, of referring to an individual of undetermined gender as “he” (though I’ve been writing for many decades about a famous amateur detective who proudly does just that).

I do think it’s funny that the French make a point of not finding out how many of their citizens might be of which race or place of national origin, but they insist on gendering everybody and everything, including household furniture (for example, “chair,” in French, can apparently, according to Google Translate, be either masculine or feminine, depending on which word you decide to use).

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