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Sacrebleu! Francophone purists to sue after French Olympic Committee picks English slogan

The Academie Francaise has condemned "Made for Sharing" as the motto of a Paris Olympic bid. Organizers have said they want to communicate internationally, but activists are preparing legal action.

When the French National Olympic Bid Committee announced on Friday that "Made for Sharing" would be the official slogan of the country's bid for the 2024 Games, they were not intending to insult the French language but to broaden their campaign and reach the largest possible audience.

Yet, the committee has now been accused of breaking French law.

Why? Because the slogan is in English.

Language preservation organizations in France, a nation that prides itself on the purity and defense of its language like perhaps no other, decried the committee's decision to forgo using the French language and instead employ "that of Donald Trump!"

Bernard Pivot, president of the French literary organization Academie Goncourt and well-known defender of French culture, called the slogan "a mistake, an absurdity."

"Paris, the capital of the francophone world is bowing to the language not only of Shakespeare but also that of Donald Trump!" he said.

The highest authoritative body on the French language, the Academie Francaise, also decried the slogan as over-used and low-brow and likened it to a pizza advertisement.

Academie Francaise in Paris (Getty Images/AFP/L. Bonaventure)

The Academie Francaise slammed the slogan

Au tribunal!

The French nation actively guards its linguistic heritage, and a collective of language activists have already begun making plans to legally block the slogan. Their lawyer, Emmanuel Ludot, lodged a formal request with the government's rights defense authority to stop the slogan from being used.

Ludot also claimed the English catchphrase contravenes a 1994 law protecting the French language and plans to file a motion in a Paris court on Monday.

The collective wants to see a slogan in either both English and French or solely in French, with some proposing "Venez partager" ("Come and share!") as an alternative.

"We want them [the bid committee] to communicate in the language that is ours," Ludot said.

Paris Olympic bid committee flabbergasted

The Paris Bid Committee responded to the uproar with dismay, saying it was "astonished by certain reactions."

"We are extremely committed to the promotion of our country, of its values, of the French language," Etienne Thobois, Paris 2024 bid director, said in a statement.

Thobois underlined that the decision to employ an English-language slogan was made with the global composition of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in mind. The group will vote September 13 in the Peruvian capital, Lima, on whether Paris, Budapest or Los Angeles will host the 2024 Summer Games. 

"In order to win, you have to bear in mind that the IOC members who will vote in Lima won't be French," Thobois said. 

"That's why, like all the organizations who speak to an international audience, we made the choice to express ourselves in French and in English. This enables us to directly share our project as much as possible."

Earlier in the month, the now-official but perhaps short-lived English slogan and the French equivalent were projected onto the Eiffel tower.

But "Made for Sharing" may yet prove not so easy to share after all.

 

cmb/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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