In France, in addition to the pandemic and the presidential election, there is also a debate about the inclusion of the neutral pronoun “iel” in the digital version of the Petit Robert dictionary, which was announced by the director of the publishing house in a press release, Charles Pimpnet, and relaunched by local media.
“We’ve seen that ‘iel’ is being used increasingly,” Pimpnett explained. At the moment, the neutral pronoun would not be present in any paper dictionary, but the debate that has arisen has also been involved in the central government.
Equal Opportunities Minister Elisabeth Moreno described Lou Robert’s move as “an offering to people who want to identify themselves in that conscience. I don’t understand what it can take away from those who don’t use it”. Instead, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said: “Feminism is a just cause, But we must not tear up the French language, which is already complex enough as it is. It is okay to feminize the names of professions, but sudden changes are not good.”
For Brigitte, Macron’s wife, “Dual division of pronouns is okay.” But within the French president’s party, there are those who are vehemently opposed, such as François Jolivet, and he has sent a letter to the French Academy urging it to express her opinion on the issue.
“iel” is a new term invented in the early 2000s by people who identify themselves as not binary and therefore do not identify themselves in the masculine or even in the feminine pronoun.