Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Il n'y a que le ridicule qui tue ...

France has enough trouble without this: a UMP deputy (male) has been sanctioned by Sandrine Mazetier (PS) for addressing her as "Madame le Président" rather than, as she prefers (but the Académie Française does not) Madame la Présidente:

«C'est Madame la présidente, ou il y a un rappel à l'ordre avec inscription au procès verbal», l'a averti la députée de Paris. Julien Aubert a persisté, affirmant qu'il ne faisait que suivre «l’Académie française» en disant «Madame le président», la féminisation se référant à la femme du président. Et a écopé d'un rappel à l'ordre.

7 comments:

bernard said...

where it gets funny and confusing is that France has (rightly) an increasing number of ambassadors who are females. How should one address them: madame l'ambassadeur or madame l'ambassadrice? Me, first time, I got it embarrassingly wrong...

Mitch Guthman said...

A silly tempest in a teapot, perhaps. But you must admit that it is so charmingly, stereotypically French that the most heated argument of the day in the legislature is about grammar.

For what it’s worth, I can see merit on both sides of the debate. On the one hand, the Académie française is trying to create some consistency in the application of the rules for the gender of nouns. It is already incomprehensible to me and the best I can do is look at the ending of the word and make a guess. So I am opposed to more rules for professions.

On the other hand, Sandrine Mazetier makes a valid point. This is well above my linguistic pay-grade but why exactly do we say “monsieur le député” and not “monsieur la député” or, in other words, why is “Député” masculin? Shouldn't it be feminine? If so, the Académie has already made an exception so that men don't get addressed in the feminine---why not just harmonize all professions to the gender of the subject? (To be clear, this is partly an argument but mostly a request for information from those with expertise).

Also, here is a question: If the president were to be a woman, how would her spouse be addressed?

Cincinna said...

@Mitch
Marine le Pen doesn't have a husband. She lives with a man, to whom she is not married. Her "companion" is a leader of the FN. Interesting that those who want to impose "traditional French Christian" values on their compatriotes, do not live by those values they preach. Since it is MLP, we could always refer to him as "first dude" or premier hypocrite de France. All this with the addition of a strong "GOD FORBID" understood.

brent said...

Premier Sieur? But just think: we wouldn't have to hypothesize about the unpleasant possibility of M. Aliot as Premier Sieur, Monsieur, Seigneur or anything else if some 5% of French voters in 2007 had had the good sense to switch their votes to Mme. la Présidente Royale. (We'll leave aside the pungent criticism of the 5th Republic embedded in that last phrase.) But just think: no Première Dame Trierweiler, no M. le Président Hollande, just a cozy spot for M. Flamby as Premier Sieur (or whatever). We can only dream ...

Passerby said...

I like "First dude".
It's a good male alternative to "first girlfriend".

Joke aside, the tempest in the teapot hasn't calmed down. Today 139 UMP deputies have published protestation letter in the Figaro to challenge the the fine imposed upon Julien Aubert.

Anonymous said...

But then as Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe jested decades ago "A Frenchman knows his language from A to Zed", so why should he be fined for being a grammar puritan?

Anonymous said...

Mitch: the reason députée cannot have "la" is that it was found that when hearing the two words together, most people thought "pute", ie., whore.
Sandrine Mazetier is strict now because she was subjected to a lot of humiliating behavior - think that until a couple years ago, male "députsé" thought it perfectly fine to worlf whistle at their female colleagues who wore skirts or business suits (even if they were of the conservative, well below the knee type).
In order to understand France today, one needs to watch "Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu". it's considered too racist and risqué for the US so it's unlikely to go there, but it's very interesting in that it sheds a good light into the "liberal" French psyche (poking fun at what is "mainstream" in France). I feared the worst but the film really does depict France as it is. For all of Zemmour's complaints, some aspects of France are still very much 80s.
Oh, and reading Le Suicide français would also give one another insight into the French psyche, this time, the non liberal kind (not sure whether "conservative" applies there as it's a rewriting of history.)