Time to say au-revoir to Mademoiselle?Time to say au-revoir to Mademoiselle?Time to say au-revoir to Mademoiselle?Time to say au-revoir to Mademoiselle?Time to say au-revoir to Mademoiselle?Time to say au-revoir to Mademoiselle?
As a provider of professional translation services, we at Veritas are dedicated to research into language change and adaptation, and this brings me to a story that has recently been in the news on the subject of language and gender in France.
French feminist groups are currently celebrating a victory in their call for Mademoiselle – the French term used for an unmarried woman – to be removed from all official forms and documents in the future. Previously the term has appeared in all kinds of documents from tax returns and phone bills to insurance claims and online booking forms, but campaigners complained that the term discriminates against women by asking them to reveal their marital status.
The move for the eradication of Mademoiselle began last September in Cesson-Sevigne, a town in Brittany, and the local council has since banned its use in all official documentation. This move has since been mirrored across the country, removing the ideas of married life attached to the term madame, making it carry the same meaning as its male counterpart. As is the case in English, there is only one term used in French to describe males; Monsieur, and although historically an unmarried male was once a Damoiseau, this term has since gone the way of the dodo, and is no longer used in everyday language. Furthermore, in France, unlike in the UK, there is no neutral form that exists that does not disclose the marital status of the woman, as in the English Ms.
The move has been seen as a positive step towards gender equality in France, with the original term often deemed condescending and even patronising towards women. As with the German Fraulien falling out of use in [...]