Language ideologies in inclusive language debates in France (2000-2022) - Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 Accéder directement au contenu
Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2022

Language ideologies in inclusive language debates in France (2000-2022)

Ann Coady


This presentation examines attitudes to gender-inclusive language in French, ranging from feminine job titles, to the introduction of the pronoun iel and the use of the middot. A corpus of newspaper articles, which included terms linked to gender-fair language, was built from French national newspapers, dating from 2000 to 2022. The aim of this study was to identify the discourses drawn upon in the gender inclusive language debate, and the underlying language ideologies (Woolard 1998) that these discourses are built upon. The gender-inclusive language debate can be viewed as as an arena, in which a struggle over words and what they mean is taking place, but at the same time, a struggle over who has the authority to define language usage (Mills 2008). This is, in fact, a perfect example of what Blommaert (1999) calls a “language ideological debate”. Language ideological debates are arenas in which not only are language ideologies are shaped and reshaped, but languages themselves. For instance, the language ideology of LANGUAGE IS A TOOL is currently reshaping the French language (the addition of iel has modified the pronominal system). A corpus linguistics approach was used in order to extract key words, followed by a closer critical discourse analysis (Baker 2014), in particular a critical metaphor analysis (Charteris-Black 2004). The language ideologies identified were, in fact, very often expressed in metaphorical terms (for example, LANGUAGE IS NATIONAL TREASURE, or LANGUAGE IS A WEAPON). Examples from a similar corpus of articles from the British press will be drawn upon in order to highlight any particularly interesting differences between attitudes expressed. Rather strikingly, very similar discourses and language ideologies were identified in both the French and British corpora, despite the differences in linguistic structure and sociolinguistic histories of the two countries. Nevertheless, some interesting variations were observed, which I argue can be explained by the relative “ideological force” (del-Teso-Craviotto 2006) of certain language ideologies in one country compared to the other, rather than the structure of the language itself.
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Dates et versions

hal-04012176 , version 1 (02-03-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-04012176 , version 1


Ann Coady. Language ideologies in inclusive language debates in France (2000-2022). Attitudes towards gender-inclusive language: A multinational perspective, Queen Mary University of London, Sep 2022, London (U.K.), United Kingdom. ⟨hal-04012176⟩


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