The rules of this spelling reform, which aims to banish the supposed supremacy of the masculine over the feminine in society, are far-fetched.
“HELLO to all …” Inclusive writing entered the public debate in November 2015, when the High Council for Equality (HCE) published a practical guide, “For a public communication without gender stereotypes ”.
This new type of writing aims to reform spelling in order to banish the supposed supremacy of the masculine over the feminine in society, of which grammar would be the mirror. This linguistic system is articulated around a precise methodology. Manual.
● The midpoint
It was invented to allow a word to be both masculine and feminine. “Midpoint”, “midpoint” or “otherness point”, depending on the version, it is central in the small world of inclusive writing. Its followers use it to ostensibly strike a balance between masculine and feminine. The “students”, “professors”, and “citizens” become “students”, “professors” and “citizens”. Not to be confused with the end point, the point is said to be midpoint because it is located in the middle of the word.
Ignoring simplicity, the rule is to write the root of the word, followed by the masculine suffix, the midpoint, and the feminine suffix (then, in the plural, a second midpoint and a final s). The choice of this point is considered preferable compared to the parentheses which “Indicate a secondary matter”, to the slash that “Connotes an opposition”, and the capital E which “May suggest that only women are designated”.
● The epicene words
The words epicene, from the Greek epicoinos “Common”, designate these terms which have the same form in masculine and feminine. By using them, the defenders of this typography can thus have the impression to avoid “gendered” expressions. Thus, instead of “human rights”, they prefer “human rights”, a more vague expression. To avoid the now problematic man and woman we will speak of “person”. “Actor” or “actress” will be replaced by “artist”, or “employee” by “staff member”.
● Successively use the feminine and the masculine
“French, French, help me!” In his 1958 speech, de Gaulle already distinguished men from women. Would he have thought he was doing inclusive writing? Today, its activists systematically claim this practice, where custom made it an expression of courtesy. They differentiate between feminine and masculine words and adjectives. Example: “all”, “those”, “the citizens”. In writing, they go further with the determinants, writing “la.le” or “le.la” depending on the gender of the name that follows. Example: “the.the. presenter.ice” For an epicene word preceded by a determinant, they recommend using the alphabetical order: “the.the reporter”, “du.de la diplomate”. In the plural, it is said to add the letter s at the end of the word: “les agent.es territoriaux.ales”.
● A neutral pronoun
A “neutral pronoun” will be used to designate men and women indifferently. As the neutral does not exist in French, unlike Latin or German, the advocates of the inclusive have resolved to invent it: “iel” or “ille”. In the plural, it gives “iels” or “illes”, and the pronouns those and those become “celleux” or “ceulles”. These unsightly neologisms have not yet entered everyday language.
● The proximity agreement
The agreement of words according to the law of proximity is established to avoid any discrimination. Contrary to the grammatical convention that the masculine gender (which serves as a neuter) wins, according to the new inclusive norm, the adjective or substantive agrees in gender with the closest word in the sentence: “Les students have been informed ”.
● Systematic feminization of titles and professions
Grades, titles, and trade names that existed only in the masculine must necessarily have their feminine counterpart. Where the use feminizes with caution (“author” or “author” formed on the model of actress, MP, gradually settles, not without the reluctance of speakers), supporters of inclusive writing make it a imperative. To the point of going as far as “seniore”, and even “sapeuse-pompière”.