Écriture inclusive : liberté, égalité, sororité ? How the debate on inclusive writing exposes language ideologies in France
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This research, conducted within the framework of the Master’s program Intercultural Communication, was initiated in response to the recent debate on écriture inclusive in France. In 2015, after more than three decades of attempts to feminize job titles in France, the council for equality between men and women put forward several suggestions to make women more visible in writing, by means of orthographic and grammatical reforms. Once this movement started to gain ground in the public discourse, it led to a national polemic beyond compare. Although the position and roles of authorities will also be discussed, the main focus of this thesis is on the attitudes and ideologies of the general audience. This study analyses how speakers in France today evaluate recent proposals of inclusive writing, in an attempt to expose their underlying language ideologies. A questionnaire with qualitative elements revealed the awareness, attitudes and opinions of French respondents under the age of 25 towards écriture inclusive and other elements of their language. A semiotic analysis brought to light that the ideological reasoning of the speakers is mainly based on the strong indexical relationship between the most visible aspect of inclusive writing (le point milieu) and a social movement for the equality between men and women. The biggest divide in opinions can be traced back to two vastly different language ideologies: one in which language had the ability to influence society, and one in which it does not, which – in light of the relevant theories – can be understood as different conceptions of gender. This study offers a unique insight into language ideologies in France and concludes with some possible steps for further research.