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Laura K. Lawless

Courriel - c'est officiel

By July 12, 2003

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The Académie française, aka the French language police, recently surprised the francophone world with its choice for the official French translation of "email." Deciding that the terms commonly used in France (e-mail, mail, and mél) were too close to English, the Académie chose the Québécois word courriel (a contraction of courrier électronique). It surprises some and pleases others that Québécois French, which is sometimes belittled as not being "real" French, had the Frenchest word after all.

(It's also important to note that émail is a French word meaning "enamel." It's pronounced [e maj] - nothing like the English "email." So there is a practical reason for choosing a different term.)

A few days later the French Culture Ministry formally banned the word "email" in any government-related documents, despite the objections of some internet experts. And to little avail - most French speakers in France do not use courriel.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the format of this page, called a blog in English, is known as un blogue in French, at least for now.

Source: Wired - France Bids Adieu to 'E-Mail'
   + Any comments?
   + French in Canada
   + French texting abbreviations

More: French in the news, 2000 to 2009


February 16, 2007 at 1:16 pm
(1) Morgan's Dad says:

For courriel, what would the verb be, please?

March 29, 2007 at 8:55 am
(2) OL says:

envoyer un courriel?

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