Inclusive writing is a way of writing that uses non-sexist or epicene, language.
To promote gender equality.
Non-sexist language or inclusive French language is a manner of writing that aims to make language gender neutral, and give women visibility. The use of inclusive language aims to promote women-men equality in writing.
Words carry symbols… sometimes sexist ones
Words we read or hear create mental images in our brain. Our brain works like this: we make a personal movie when we read a text. Visual representations spring up and give colour and shape to what we have just read. That’s why it is so vital to choose the words that hit the nail on the head.
What image comes to mind when you thank employees or call on customers? For half of your readership, no problem, they “see” themselves. For the other half? Um, how can I put it? Looks like a dead end…
French inclusive translation: a gender issue?
Women feel less concerned about their manager thanking “tous les employés”, because in French words are different for women and men (employés vs. employées), even if they are expressly addressed to all employees. This is why thanking your female employees ALSO makes sense. Think of this when targeting your clients, you might easily boost your sales.
Regardless of our will, our brains form images when we read certain words. This is how stereotypes are born.
One out of every two men is a woman. Let it also be so, in writing…
THINK OF YOUR WHOLE TARGET WHEN WRITING OR TRANSLATING INTO FRENCH
Targeting your entire clientele, your entire audience: that’s the secret! That’s what inclusive writing is all about: giving women and men equal visibility in both the written and spoken word. Don’t exclude half your audience or of your clientele. There is a mathematical reality out there: half of humanity is made up of men and half of women.
Don’t settle for the generic masculine that supposedly includes women, because there is no such thing as gender-neutral in French.
Tell your English into French translator to use both masculine and feminine words, or to use non-gendered words. Partners: ‘partenaires’; staff: ‘personnel’ or ‘collaborateurs et collaboratrices’; customers: ‘clientèle’ or ‘clientes et clients’. Don’t forget half of them! Clients, staff and all your organisation’s partners will adopt your arguments all the more easily if you have created a mental image in which they can project themselves as well.
Translature has published an online dictionary of synonyms to gendered words. Have a look, it is free!
THE IMAGE – Being ‘une administratrice’ is just as rewarding as being ‘un administrateur’.
EQUALITY – The French language, although gendered, must not be sexist.
A LEVER – The French language is a powerful, free and immediately available tool to create strong mental images and facilitate the adoption of your argument.
ALTERNATIVES – Happily apply all the other rules (other than the generic masculine, as the French language does not have a neutral gender).
AESTHETICS – The word ‘autrice’ is not any uglier than the word ‘traductrice’, it is just a question of habit.
HABITS – Habits alone make a word sound different to our ears. But they can be changed. So no more excuses for procrastination!
The French language presents the peculiarity of having a grammatical gender that does not reflect the sex of individuals: the so-called generic masculine, the one that supposedly “includes” women. This is not the case in English, for example, which is not such a gendered language. Women and men can thus be CEOs, mechanics or teachers.
Why is French inclusive translation still an issue? Let’s look at the frequent (bad) reasons, and bring explanation forward.