For centuries now, the Académie Française has basically overseen the entire French language, being responsible for everything from grammar, to publishing French dictionaries, to acting as the “official authority on the language.” An important part of that role in recent decades has been to ward off the slow invasion of slang and jargon from the English-speaking world, which the French people have been increasingly exposed to through film, music, TV and now video games.
As The Guardian reports, that has extended this week to a “ban” on the use of certain gaming-adjacent words that are popular not just in English-speaking countries but around the world. The Académie can’t outlaw the use of the words in everyday speech, or even in the media—that’s not within their powers or their intent—but the ban is now “binding on government workers,” which means that when speaking on the topic or preparing papers, French officials need to find different ways of saying words like “esports.”
In that case, it’s now the far less catchy “jeu video de competition.” Cloud gaming becomes “jeu video en nuage,” pro gamer is “joueur professionnel,” and a streamer should be referred to as a “joueur-animateur en direct.”
If this is the first time you’re ever hearing about the Académie—which dates back to 1635—please don’t let this be the only thing you ever learn about them. They’re like a wild little Vatican for grammar nerds, with their 40 members known as “Immortals,” and appointed for life. New members can sometimes temporarily turn down a position if they didn’t like the person previously holding the seat, since they have to “eulogize their predecessor in the installation ceremony.” And they even have their own uniforms—with swords!—which you can see below in a photo that was taken in the year 2021: