French officials are saying “adieu” to popular English video game vocabulary in an effort to preserve their rarified language.
On Monday the country’s Ministry of Culture reportedly announced it would effectively ban popular gaming jargon like “pro-gamer,” “streamer” and “esports,” and replace them with explicitly French alternatives, according to an AFP report spotted by The Guardian. Those variations range from relatively straightforward translations—“joueur professionnel” for “pro gamer,” for example”—to more comically convoluted creations like “joueur-animateur en direct,” which translates roughly to live player host for “streamer.” Under the new rules, the term ”cloud gaming” will change to “eu video en nuage.”
The ministry claimed in an interview with AFP it decided to take the action because Anglican sounding words in gaming could pose, ”a barrier to understanding” for non-gamers.” Those concerns come despite years of a thriving gaming sector in France which just raked in its second record year of sales in as many years.
Anyone who’s spent any time in France knows a fair share of the populace is pretty dead set on preserving the “Frenchness” of their language. Officials have whipped out the lexical ban hammer on numerous occasions over the past two decades, particularly in respect to words associated with the internet.
France famously previously tried to replace the word “email”with “courriel” (a fusion of the words ”courrier” and “electronique”) back in 2003, according to Wired. Six years later, France’s General Commission of Terminology and Neology reportedly tried to replace the term “cloud computing” with “informatique en nuage.” Not long after that officials set their sights on the word “hashtag,” replacing it with the French “mo-dee-yez.” Catchy!
The restrictions aren’t just limited to gaming or tech either. Last year, for example, France’s education minister ignited a firestorm of controversy by announcing a ban on gender-neutral terms aimed at increasing inclusivity.
All that said, there are still plenty of English words that have managed to slither by the French word police over the years. The highly important words cheeseburger and hot dog, for example, will get you just as far in Paris as they would Raleigh, North Carolina though the accent might leave some Americans scratching their heads for a few moments. It’s also worth noting this week’s video game language bans will only carry the weight of law for government workers.
So don’t worry one-world language enthusiasts, hopefully Twitch and TikTok can still vie to pick off where Esperanto failed.