The French add new words

Sometimes the existence of The Académie Française makes me think of the people in charge of the scrabble dictionary. Having said that, at least the Académie is a federal body, unlike our own example – some committee in the employ of the OED and reported as filler in the odd parts of the paper that nothing else fits into.

dev/null writes of a recent “festival of new words” that was embarked upon:

Of course, whether the winners make it into the official draft of the French language is another matter; while the Académie may unilaterally coin indigenously French neologisms, getting people to use them is another matter. (The Académie’s word for electronic mail, courriel, seems to have been unsuccessful, with the anglicism “e-mail” instead gaining currency.) Chances are this contest is intended more to promote experimentation with the expressive possibilities of the French language.

I see something like the Académie Française as being inherently conservative, but this promotion of experimentation is a positive sign of a language alive.

 


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