(Paris) The Le Robert dictionary, which had included the pronoun “iel” and its variant “ielle” in its online version, announced on Wednesday that it had removed this feminized spelling for its printed version.

“Iel”, a personal pronoun halfway between the masculine “he” and the feminine “she”, has been defined in Le Robert online since November. The publisher has announced that it has included it in its 2023 edition of Petit Robert.

Initially, Le Robert stated on its website “We also write ielle, ielles”. But these variants are no longer given.

The definition of this word “rare” is: “Personal subject pronoun of the third person singular (iel) and plural (iels), used to refer to a person, whatever their gender”.

This new personal pronoun divides those who reject it altogether, and those who consider it essential to attenuate the predominance of the masculine in the French language.

“I think it was a publicity stunt for Robert, […] a good opportunity to attract attention,” said the permanent secretary of the French Academy, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, in February.

The Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, said in November that he “obviously” supported the initiative of a deputy from the presidential majority, who asked the French Academy to make an official decision.

Generally more cautious in its integration of new words, the competing dictionary of Robert in France, the Larousse, has not taken the plunge.

Among the terms that enter the Petit Robert, we find “NFT” (non-fungible token in French) or “woke” as in the Larousse, but also “chiller”, “degender”, “eco-anxiety”, “gênance” or “perform”.

George Floyd, killed by American police in May 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, entrepreneur Elon Musk and actress Valérie Lemercier are among the newcomers to the proper name pages.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here