French institution bans English words like ‘esports’ and ‘streaming’

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For centuries now, the French Academy essentially oversaw the entire French language, being responsible for everything from grammar to publishing French dictionaries to “official language authority”. An important part of this role over the past decades has been to ward off the slow invasion of slang and jargon from the English-speaking worldto which the French are increasingly exposed through cinema, music, television and now video games.

As The Guardian reports, which this week extended to a “ban” on the use of certain gambling-adjacent words that are popular not only in English-speaking countries but around the world. The Academy cannot prohibit the use of the words in everyday speech, or even in the media, it is not within their powers or intention, but the prohibition is now “compulsory for officials”, which means that when speaking on the subject or preparing documents, French officials must find different ways to say words like “esports”.

In this case, it’s now the much less eye-catching “competitive video game”. Cloud gaming becomes “cloud video game”, pro gamer becomes “professional gamer” and a streamer should be called “live gamer-host”.

If this is your first time hearing about the Academy, which dates back to 1635, please don’t let this be the only thing you learn about them. They are like a little savage Vatican for grammar nerds, with their 40 members called “Immortals”, and appointed for life. New members may sometimes temporarily refuse a position if they did not like the person who previously occupied the seat, since they must “praise their predecessor at the installation ceremony”. And they even have their own uniforms–with swords!–which you can see below in a photo taken in 2021:

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Photo: STEPHANE OF SAKUTIN (Getty Images)

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