French government bans use of English term ‘eSports’ to preserve the language

The French government has forbidden its gaming operators from using the English term “eSports”.

The French culture ministry announced the ban in May 2022, adding to the long list of counter-actions undertaken to protect the revered language and preserve its purity. The words “pro gamer” and “streamer” were also banned in the same announcement.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), French officials justified the move as necessary in order to reduce the “barrier to understanding” the gaming language among French non-gamers, given that anglicisms dominate the rapidly growing internet gaming sector.

Some words are easily translated from English into their French equivalents, as can be seen at a glance. “Pro-gamer,” for example, translates to “joueur professionnel.” Some words, on the other hand, are more strained. “Streamer” becomes “joueur-animateur en direct,” for example. The term “eSports” falls into the latter category, as its French translation is “jeu vidéo de compétition.”

The Académie Française Main Concern

The Académie Française, the French council for language, takes note of and warns about such issues. The council recently warned that French is experiencing shambolic growth. It noted that words like “Ouigo” (pronounced “we go”), “big data,” and “drive-in” are part of the language’s inevitable degradation.

The council relentlessly advocates for increased awareness of language degradation. It encourages all parties to question and investigate it, particularly in terms of distribution, appropriateness in professional training, and freedom from fads. It advocates for the preservation of the French language in institutional communication as well as other areas of correspondence.

One aspect of the language with which the council is particularly concerned is its use in fashion and trends. The council raises awareness of the dangers of the language mindlessly following new trends and encourages the use of French vocabulary regardless of context. It believes that doing so is the only viable way to preserve the language’s foundation, visibility, and chance of surviving in the face of globalization and cultural diversity.

The Académie Française previously attempted to translate the term “WiFi” into French, coining the phrase “l’accès sans fil à internet,” which refers to wireless internet access. However, the attempt failed because most people continued to use the term “le wifi.”

Enforcing Language Purity

Previous attempts to popularize certain French words by institutions like Académie Française, have not always been fruitful. Many people still appear to be inclined to use the terms they first internalize. However, the prohibition on using the term “eSports” implies that different outcomes are possible. The government issued the ban in the official journal, making it mandatory for all government employees to comply.

The French government provided “jeu vidéo de compétition” as an alternative term for “eSports” in the official journal. It also provided substitutes for other related terms, such as “jeu vidéo en nuage” for “cloud gaming.” The ministry was adamant about using alternatives to enforce the use of French in gaming. The ultimate goal is to unite all French people in their use of the language. Experts investigated the effectiveness of the new strategy by combing through video game websites and magazines to see if the terms were already in use.

The Effectiveness of the Ban

The recent prohibition on the use of certain terms is a continuation of a centuries-old tradition of keeping a close eye on the language. Giving the Académie Française the responsibility of maintaining proper French usage many years ago demonstrates the authority’s resolve. Despite previous failures, the French government remains optimistic about the possibility of protecting the French from anglicisms.

Social media posts about the ban show mixed feelings about its potential effectiveness. Some people believe that making the ban official was unnecessary. Others thought the action would be beneficial in the long run.

However, despite being official, implementing it throughout the French population may be difficult. France already has a large number of gamers who are familiar with and comfortable using popular gaming terminology. It is expected that the alternative terms will take some time to gain traction in the French gaming community.

Despite the possibility of failure, the new terms may eventually take root. The government’s decision to make the ban official is an excellent starting point for French alternatives. The continued use of the new terms, as well as the government’s insistence on them, has the potential to speed up the process.

It is within the government’s right to protect the country’s cultural heritage but the overwhelming wave of globalization stands as a significant threat to such efforts. Modern gaming is not country specific as professional gamers in different world cultures have to actively interact hence the institution of eSports. It is inevitable that the international gaming jargon will spill over to French culture.

This article is brought to you by Samantha Msihi

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