French language societies: purist or moderate?
Sociétés de langue française : puristes ou modérées ?
Clare College, University of Cambridge, Clare College, Trinity Lane, CB2 1TL Cambridge, UK
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
The second half of the twentieth century has seen the emergence in France of an increasing number of private societies for the protection of the French language. Since the 1990s, such societies have increasingly been established online, with older societies also creating an online presence. France is a country, which has long been associated with linguistic purism. Can these language societies be seen to represent a modern-day form of purism? To attempt to answer this question, this article takes as its basis George Thomas’s Linguistic Purism, which outlines a framework, which can be used to identify and measure elements typical of all purist movements. An examination of several language societies highlighted two major preoccupations shown by all of them: the protection of the French language from the perceived ‘dangerous’ influx of anglicisms in recent years, and the promotion of the use of French both in France and further afield. Two societies were then chosen which each reflect one of these preoccupations quite strongly, and these societies were examined in the light of Thomas’s framework in order to investigate whether or not they can be seen to be purist. The investigation shows that although both societies do show some purist traits, they also show features that do not tie in with Thomas’s framework. Further research is needed to explore whether these language societies are not, in fact, truly purist or whether Thomas’s framework needs to be expanded to reflect a new situation.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2010