French language watchdogs say 'non' to gender-neutral style

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Well, you have to admit mangled forms such as directeur.trice.s are a bit of an abomination.

I guess you could invent a new pleural form for mixed groups, but then the academics would just tie themselves up in knots trying to decide what the gender of the new form was for agreement purposes (neuter, anyone?)

Been in France for a long time but still not know all of masculine or feminine words (le or la).
So I use a gender neutral le-a (said very quickly) to get by. Works a wonder

Gender in French is something I struggle with a lot but it is not just getting “le vs la” or “un vs une” right but also agreement in other parts of the sentence - and let’s not get into the words which are spelled or sound the same but where different genders are attached to different meanings

le moule vs la moule
le tour vs la tour
un poêle vs une poêle
un coq vs une cocque
le foi vs la fois

There’s quite a list of these!

La coque, le foie, la foi, la fois :wink:


As a very basic rule of thumb - and I’ve been criticised for saying this before on this forum - I work on the very simple basis(perhaps too simple) that if the word ends in ‘e’ then treat it as feminine (ie ‘la’ and if it doesn’t then treat it as masculine (‘le’) unless you know for certain what the gender is (such as every river or watercourse is regarded as feminine. I’m sure there are many other exceptions to this rule but so far it has worked for me :wink:


Frankly, whatever works for you… just go with it.

I think it is more important to keep talking… than to flounder around wondering about “le” and “la”…

I talk very, very fast (in English and French) and it seems to hide my errors… or perhaps it leaves folk fighting to keep up and unable to worry too much about my correctness…:relaxed:


Hem hem le Rhône, le Rhin, le Lot, le Cher… :wink:

Does it matter, so long as you can say “more wine please”?

Encore du vin! :slight_smile:

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Hummm Veronique. I did say it was a bit simplistic but could it be the
case that departements are masculine whereas towns and rivers are feminine?

Truly complex language french lol


Hi Graham… I used to reckon that people were masculine and their places of work were feminine

eg: Doctor/Hospital, Priest/Church, Teacher/School, Mayor/Town Hall, Librarian/Library

sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t…:thinking:

Alas, no - it is just that some rivers are masculine and some are feminine. Départements are all technically masculine because it is le département, but obv then you would say j’adore la Dordogne/la Gironde/le Tarn/le Vaucluse or whatever :blush:

Surely it’s the names that have gender not the object. Yesterday I went for a ride on mon vélo, or was it ma bicyclette?
I also believe that we are missing the point, the report was not about words having gender it was about male gender taking precedence in group situations and the way that gender neutral was attempting to overcome that.

Yes, David… I like your object ending in “e” bit. That might help me in my conversations…

With regard to the Report, it really doesn’t worry me, this gender thingy … and I suspect the majority couldn’t give a fig either…:wink:

But I do like the situation we have…so that when a “bad” driver does something stupid… unless it is an absolute certainty that the driver is female… the “baddie” is always MALE :joy:

The beauty of the french people is that, unless you are indeed a scholar
of the language (and many are not) they are very tolerant of at least
some attempt at getting the right gender.

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It is a problem though because usually you will find that while the masculine version of a word is just the word, the feminine version of the same word is pejorative, and that needs to be addressed because it does shape the way people think: not just about words with arbitrarily assigned grammatical gender, but about people whose sex causes them be described using those words.

Heavens… @vero… now you’ve lost me…can you give us some examples…

Today we are off out… and this is something a bit confusing… Fête de la Saint-Hubert (now, I always assume Hubert is male… but… “la”…???)

Oh dear Stella, it’s very confusing because if it’s Fête de la Saint Hubert shouldn’t the Saint be Sainte ?
I won’t even go into the conversations I have with close friends regarding how some male bits have feminine gender and vice versa :wink:

Exactly… but no… it’s definitely … “de la Saint-Hubert” aaaaagh… what chance do I have of getting things right… so I just smile a lot… and that works…:grin:

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Here you are:

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