The Pronoun Debate

Picture of informed

Curated by informed

A French dictionary added a general-neutral pronoun and it has sparked a widespread discussion.

  • Language and identity are two pinnacles of modern existence. The relationship society has with both is also constantly evolving. This creates a space for disagreement.
  • French dictionary, Le Petit Robert, added a gender-inclusive pronoun to its latest edition. The word “iel” - a combination of “il” (he) and “elle” (she) - has sparked a debate.
  • Many traditionalists have called out the move. The French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer tweeted “Inclusive writing is not the future of the French language”.
  • The stance is representative of a push back in France, against cultural movements related to race, gender and sexuality. They deem such inclusive language as “wokeism” and “Americanism”.
  • France is not the only country having to address this issue. A number of languages who use maculine and feminine, such as Spain, Portugual and Italy, are also having the same discussion.
  • With the rise in digitalisation, American culture and theory has become integral in mainstream and pop culture. Globally, inclusivity and representation are a priority for the younger generations.
  • This case lies at the intersection of language, politics and identity and is not likely to be resolved easily or any time soon.
  • The Read List below dives into the discussion, looking at it from a modern and historical perspective.
The Guardian
+ 4 more

5 articles on this topic


Debate over gender-neutral language divides Germany

5 min read
Screen Shot

Debunking the ‘wokeism’ debates behind the inclusion of gender neutral pronouns in dictionaries

4 min read
The Conversation

What are gender pronouns and why is it important to use the right ones?

article image
3 min read

A brief history of gender neutral pronouns

3 min read