French MPs say 'non' to speaking English at the Paris Olympics

French lawmakers have asked organisers of the Paris Olympics – as well as athletes, trainers and journalists – to speak French as much as possible during the Games in a resolution adopted in the National Assembly.

The text, available on the National Assembly website, recommends that organisers ensure official communications are drafted in French.

The sponsor of the resolution, Les Républicains MP Annie Genevard, expressed alarm to fellow MPs at how "the Olympic Games reflect the loss of influence of our language".

She referenced the much-criticised slogan for Paris's original Games bid "Made for Sharing" and other recent government-backed campaigns to promote the country such as "Choose France" or "Made in France".

"Let's hope that planche à roulettes replaces 'skateboard' and rouleau du cap 'point break' (a surfing term)," she added.

Culture Minister Rachida Dati supported the resolution, while calling for multilingualism during the Games to avoid a single "French-English pairing".

"You can't overlook the fact that many global sports events that are broadcast globally have chosen to use English for their communication, in their titles, slogans and advertising," Dati told parliament.

Thursday's resolution was backed by the ruling party and right-wingers but opposed by the left.

Language row

The French government has long battled the creeping use of English in advertising, music and film.

It also stipulated that radio stations had to play a minimum of 40 percent of French-language songs.

(with AFP)

Read more on RFI English

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