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French activists are angry at the English banners at Notre Dame

French activists are angry at the English banners at Notre Dame

The world famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris attracts millions of tourists from different parts of the world every year. The decision to put signage around the tourist attraction in English, in addition to the French signage, should therefore be welcomed. But French language campaigners now angry at the measure don’t think so. Guardian reports.

They believe that if French signs are now to be instantly translated into a foreign language, it must be done in something more than just English. Otherwise, you risk strengthening the role of English as the lingua franca, that is, the dominant language, in the world.

The group, which calls itself Défense de la langue francaise (Defense of the French Language), has previously been heard to be displeased with the banners around the Eiffel Tower. Now they hope to do the same with Notre Dame.

Invoke language law

The Guardian reports that a formal complaint case was filed with a Paris court on Monday, which coincided with the International Day of Francophonie, according to campaigner Louise Maisonneuve’s spokeswoman.

The group is generally critical of the use of English as the language when it comes to French official documents, public transport, signage, and advertisements. In addition, campaigners say that English-language signs at Notre Dame violate a law in France passed in 1994, which stipulates that all public buildings that translate their signs must do so in at least two foreign languages.

– The law protects the French language because it promotes linguistic diversity, Louise Maisonneuve tells AFP.

Spanish is required

The group has also been on the move when it comes to Notre Dame in the past. After the devastating fire in the cathedral in 2019, information about the restoration of the church is now available, but only in French and English. The activists then threatened the city of Paris with legal action if they did not add at least the same translation in Spanish. City approved and information about the restoration is now also available in a third language.

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And it is hardly anything new that many people in France are suspicious of the English language in particular. The Swedish Academy’s peer and publisher in France, the Académie Francaise has always fought against Anglicans in French. The Academy publishes a guide for French speakers in which they list the words they think should be avoided when mixed with French.

In the latest version of the list “Dire-ne pas dire” (say, don’t say) expressions such as dark, wishlist, false, Crazy Monday, Sticker, Trojan Horse, Mass Event, Game, and Gamer, and Loser as blacklisted English words that should not be incorporated into the French language.

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Also read: Feverish work at Notre Dame three years after the fire

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