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Académie Française in a tizzy over translations


New French ID cards are being issued, which include translations of the data field names in English (for instance, nom/surname) and the practice has raised the hackles of the guardians of French language and culture in a seeming 'tempest in a teapot.'

Around the world, even in monolingual countries, most people have become accustomed to seeing forms and documents used in international trade and travel bear translations of instructions and field names.

That's most people, not the "Immortals" of the Académie Française, whose defenses and deliberations over the purity of the French language usually focus on whether to accept new words or accept new forms of existing words. They are threatening a constitutional lawsuit and demanding action by the Premier.

The Académie's permanent secretary, Helene Carrere d'Encausse told Le Figaro that "An essential principle is being jeopardized," that being the Constitution's provision that "The language of the Republic shall be French." A conservative leader in the French Senate tweeted that the “the new card no longer really has a ‘French identity’. Why is there such insistence on erasing the substance of our pride and our national unity?”

Against this, others have pointed out that the translations are for easier use in international situations—EU rules require that at least the words 'Identity Card' must be in at least two EU languages—and that other EU countries have similar translations on ID cards. And another chided opponents for insecurity: “Who are we French people to be so very afraid of losing our identity for reasons like this?”

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