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Tuesday, June 13, 2006


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Adieu ''E-Mail.'' Hallo ''Courriel''

PARIS - The French government has officially banned the use of the term "e-mail" in all government documents, publications, and websites.

Effective immediately, "e-mail" will be replaced with the term "courriel" - a melding of the French words "courier electronique," or electronic mail.

The latest move toward linguistic purity was dictated by the French Culture Ministry's General Commission on Terminology and Neology, which was formed several years ago to "stem the incursion" of English words into the French lexicon.

"Evocative, with a very French sound, the word 'courriel' is broadly used in the press and competes advantageously with the borrowed 'mail' in English," the Commission said.

The latest move to protect the sanctity of the French language by the seven-year old state agency was spurred by the preference for the term 'courriel" by the government of the Francophone Canadian province of Quebec.

The Commission has close ties to the Academie Francaise, the Paris-based academic group that has been a vocal critic of the "incursion" of American language and culture into French society.

The move has drawn criticism from several French internet industry associations and companies including Club Internet, one of the country's largest web service providers.

"Protecting the language is normal, but e-mail is so assimilated now that no one thinks of it as American. The word 'courriel' is not at all actively used and it would be just another word to launch," Marie-Christine Levet, president of the company, told reporters.

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