The Académie Française is up in arms regarding a decision by Paris to use an English slogan in its bid for the 2024 Olympics. It claims that the slogan ‘Made for Sharing’ is unpatriotic and sounds like a junk food advert.
The institution, which has been policing the French language since the 17th century, said: ‘The Académie Française unanimously express its disapproval of the decision of the committee to give priority to the English language.’ Since the foundation of the modern games in 1894 by Pierre de Coubertin, French has been the first official language of the movement, it noted. English was added later as a second one.
The Académie, which consists of forty members elected from the country’s most august thinkers, has had mixed success over centuries of fighting to keep the purity of the Gallic tongue. Its events to stem the invasion of English since the 19th century have scored some victories. It promoted new words for computer ID and software which were universally adopted – ordinateur, informative and logiciel.
To add insult to injury the organiser has chosen a trite advertising tag, the Académie argued. ‘This slogan has already been used in advertising campaigns for sweets (Quality Street, Cadbury’s snap biscuits and sliceable pizzas from the Burger King Chain,’ it said).
The bid committee defended the move before the slogan was projected on to the Eiffel Tower two weeks ago. It argued: ‘We have a slogan in English to allow us to address the world and the eighty per cent of the International Olympic Committee who speak English.’ The Committee has also launched a French version – ‘Venez Partager’ [Come and Share].
Marine le Pen, the National Front leader, denounced the slogan as ‘linguistic treason’. Three French language defence groups have started legal proceedings to force the committee to abandon a phrase that they argue constitutes ‘a serious insult to the French language’ and ‘a breach of the constitution.’ Bernard Pivot, a host of TV literary shows, called the slogan ‘an error and a stupidity.’ He said that it was probably too late to cancel it, but added: ‘I suggest that they invent a French slogan and add it on. We can have two slogans.’
I agree with the French that the slogan is unimaginative and does sound like a junk food advert, but to go as far as to call it unpatriotic is stretching the elastic of common sense to breaking point.