French On-line, Er Pardon, Français Sur Le Web

Moves to stop English words overwhelming the French language have been on-going for many years, with the Association for the Defense of the French Language flagging up breaches of the 1994 law designed to protect the language. Amongst other things this law declares that all advertising material has to be in French and may be available in other languages.

At no point does the law mention the status of the Internet. Hence Georgia Tech Lorraine, the French base of the Georgia Institute of Technology contended that their English language only web-site was not illegal and fines should not be levied every time the site was accessed. This trial was set to be a test case until it was dismissed on a technicality.

Translation of the Georgia Tech Lorraine web-site into German and French (no relation to the case of course) has now taken place.

A similar issue has been raising its head in Québec, where the protection of the French language is even more active, being surrounded only by predominantly English (well, a few forms of English anyway) speaking states and provinces. There, one small business (a photographer) is arguing that he need not do this as he is aiming at a global market.

The official Charte de la langue française web site says: "Aware of the fact that the Internet is now used by companies as a means of advertising products on the global market, which products are often destined only for exportation, the Office de la langue française will apply a simple rule : a French version must be provided only in the case of advertisements posted on the Web site of a company located in Québec for products available in Québec."

The photographer's chances do not look good.

See Georgia Tech's site:
Get out the dictionary and read about the Association for the Defense of the French Language on:
The English version of the Charte de la langue française site is on: