France is limiting the use of the term “esports” and other English video game jargon in an ongoing effort to preserve the purity of the French language.
According to a report from The Guardian, French officials in the culture ministry aren’t outright banning the use of English gaming buzzwords per se, but rather they are rewriting some of the rules around their usage to make such words drip out of the French mouth as smooth as melted camembert. Even so, they said that words like “esports” and “streamers” contain so many Anglicisms that they act as “a barrier to understanding” for many non-gamers.
To wit, “esports” has now been turned into “jeu video de competition,” which sounds like a one-up from Google Translates’ version of the translation, “sports électroniques.” The term “pro-gamer” has become “joueur professionnel,” “streamer” is “joueur-animateur en direct,” and “cloud gaming” has now become “jeu video en nuage.”
Thankfully, the new gaming language won’t apply to the entire French population. British games analyst Piers Harding-Rolls tweeted that it will only apply to government workers so they can communicate to the general public about gaming-related affairs in a way that’s easier for them to follow. “None of these will be widely adopted,” he added.
French authorities overhauling the gaming language rules seems rather ironic considering that Ubisoft, one of the biggest gaming companies in the industry, is headquartered in France (with a French-Canadian arm in Quebec). However, it’s part of the country’s ongoing fight to ensure that its native language doesn’t get overly influenced by the English language, even though about 30% of it is derived from French. The Académie Française, or the French Academy, is charged with the fortification of this tradition, regularly issuing advisories and warnings on foreign words that became popular among citizens, particularly American English words. The institution treats the English language with such disdain that back in February, it warned that its public usage is “characterized by a degradation that must not be seen as inevitable.”
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