• U.S.

France: New Offense, Old Complaint

1 minute read

Sacrebleu! Guardians of the French language were shocked last week to discover new words derived from foreign tongues included in the latest edition of the venerable Academie Francaise dictionary. The academy, which has been the arbiter of standard French usage since 1635, added 912 new words to the new volume, or about a quarter of its contents. What will rile purists is that 75% of the new entries, while rooted in Greek or Latin, are based on English technical or scientific terms. Says Academy Member Henri Gouhier: “English, like all foreign languages, is both threatening and enriching.”

Among the unwelcome additions are anorak, or parka, which the dictionary carefully attributes to Eskimos, not Anglophone backpackers. Other offenders: auto-stop, auburn and bacon. To those who cannot abide Franglais, as English words used in French are called, each such entry is a babelisme, which the new dictionary defines as the “degradation of a language by the invasion of foreign words.” *

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com