Au Revoir, Mademoiselle

March 14, 2012By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture

Exactly 30 years after the U.S. government recommended the use of “Ms.” in official documents so that women would no longer be identified by their marital status, the powers that be in France have finally decided to relegate “Mademoiselle” to the trash bin on legal forms. (Applause.) Some French feminist groups want to go further and change the rule stipulating that adjectives qualifying mixed feminine and masculine nouns are always masculine (“Les garcons et les filles sont heureux”). They propose that the gender of the noun closest to the adjective should determine its form (“Les garcons et les filles sont heureuses”), as in ancient Greek and Latin and even French (though not systematically) before the 18th century. A great idea, but will it fly with the Académie Française, which rules on such matters? Maybe in 30 years’ time… Click here if you would like to sign a petition supporting this change.


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