Transcript of the video
This is called inclusive writing. We include everyone, men, women, but also people who do not really recognize themselves in the male gender, nor in the female gender.
Hello everyone. I hope you are well and that you are in good shape for this new video in French. Today we are going to talk about a new pronoun that appeared in French a while ago.
I'm telling you about it today because a subscriber asked me in a comment what the pronoun "iel" means. Maybe you've already heard this word in French.
Before you start, don't forget to activate the subtitles if you need them, and don't forget to like the video if you like it.
So today, we're not really going to do a real French lesson. The objective of this video is really to explain a little bit about this pronoun and the issues around it so that you can understand if you see it written somewhere.
This pronoun "iel", it appeared around 2010, especially in LGBT circles.
A few months ago, the dictionary Le Petit Robert added this word to its online dictionary. It caused a lot of debates, polemics, especially among politicians who were not at all happy that we touch the French language and add a new pronoun.
This pronoun is the contraction, therefore, it is a valise word between "he" and "she", it is "iel". This pronoun, we can see it more and more on the social networks, for example, or in the LGBT circles, as I told you, and more and more, associations which are committed will use this pronoun.
This is what is called inclusive writing, so inclusive, we include everyone, men, women, but also people who do not really recognize themselves in the male gender, nor in the female gender.
It becomes a neutral pronoun. In general, in the singular we will put iel i,e,l and in the plural i, e, l, s. But there are other spellings, for example with l,l,e.
So, it is used to refer to a person, regardless of gender. That's how it's defined in this dictionary, Le Robert. In this video, we're not here to debate whether it's good or bad.
Above all, what I want to do is to explain it to you so that you can understand it. As I often tell you, language evolves according to people's needs and according to the uses. This is also what the director of this dictionary said when she chose to include this word.
She explained that the dictionary team was just there to report on usage, but not there to give an opinion, or judge whether it is a good or bad thing that this new word has appeared.
I read in an article that in France, among young people between 18 and 30 years old, there were more than 22% who felt neither really male nor really female.
This is a survey that was done in 2020 by Ifop. It is really a very big polling institute in France.
You see, this is what the director of the dictionary explains, that, we see that in the uses, we see that more and more people need this.
So there are two cases where we use this pronoun "iel". The first case, I think you've kind of figured out, is for people who consider themselves non-binary.
I don't know if you've heard this term before, it's what I was telling you, it's people who don't really recognize themselves in the male gender, nor in the female gender.
I don't know if you know the actress Ellen Page. Some time ago, she decided that she wanted to be called Eliott Page and that the pronouns "he" or "they" be used about her.
"He" is the masculine pronoun and "they" is either the plural pronoun, but nowadays it can be used as a neutral singular pronoun.
So, exactly like "iel" in French for people who don't recognize themselves in one or the other gender.
In English, the use of "they", which is already "they" in the plural, can be confusing, especially when there are translations of English texts into French, Spanish, Italian, whatever the language.
Because it's not really, it hasn't really been integrated very well yet that it can be used as a neutral singular pronoun, so there can be mistakes in the translations.
With "iel" at least, since it is a brand new pronoun, there is no confusion with anything else.
There are also others that have appeared, such as "celleux" to speak of those. It is a contraction of both, but this word has not yet entered a dictionary.
But you see, it's the same process. That's the first case we saw. So, for people who don't consider themselves to be of one gender or another.
There is a second case where it can be used, it is when you do not want to put a particular gender forward, when you talk about a group of people.
For example, if I say the nurses treated many people during the Covid crisis, if I were to replace with a pronoun, the rule in French would be that I should say ils ont soigné de beaucoup de gens.
"Iel" makes it possible to understand that there were also women who worked. It puts back the feminine, it is a little more egalitarian we will say.
You probably know this rule in French. If I talk about 100 women and one man, it is always the masculine form that will take precedence in the grammar.
So, if I say Sandra, Vanessa, Elisa, Josephine and Marc went to the movies.
If I have to use a pronoun, I would say they, even if there were many more girls. This rule can be a bit of a problem because when we are children, at school, to help us remember this grammar rule, we often say in France: remember that the masculine always prevails over the feminine.
So, there are many people, especially feminists, who criticize this sentence, this formula, because one can say that in the French language, the masculine is always more important, but it can also give the impression that in society, women are less important than men.
So, people who want to put a little more equality will perhaps use, this pronounces iel, the inclusive writing, to remind that women are also present.
There is the pronoun, but in terms of grammar, the agreement of an adjective or a past participle, we haven't really established any rules, so this pronoun is just a first step.
So, as I was saying here, I'm explaining it to you because I was asked the question and it's really so that you understand if you see this word "iel" on social networks, for example, because that's where you see it a lot.
But you, when you write, when you take exams, really stick to classical grammar and classical pronouns.
So I'm really talking about an evolution of the language, but it is not at all validated by the Académie française, it is not really something that is necessarily used in everyday life.
It's still in some circles. So I was saying, I'm explaining it to you more than you are so that you can understand it if you see this expression.
That's it for today, I hope you liked this video a little bit different from what I can usually offer you and that you learned something.
Tell me in comments if you also have this kind of evolution in your language, I find it always interesting to see how these evolutions happen in other languages.
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