Passers-by in Paris (2013): "Message of Frenchness"?
Photo: © Charles Platiau / Reuters/ Reuters
The not always uncomplicated history of Franco-American relations has one more anecdote: The New York-based news agency Associated Press (AP) has apologized for warning against the use of the term "the French".
The background was a list of supposedly problematic expressions that AP had published on Twitter in a style book, a widely used style guide by the agency on the correct use of American English.
The corresponding tweet was deleted and nobody wanted to hurt anyone, wrote AP Stylebook on Twitter.
"Writing French people, French citizens, etc. is good," it continued.
"But 'the' terms for any people can sound dehumanizing and suggest a monolith instead of diverse individuals." Therefore one also recommends avoiding generalizing designations like "the poor" or "the handicapped".
It would be better to use specific descriptions such as “people with incomes below the poverty line”.
The warning against a generalization of the French caused some ridicule – not least in France itself. The French embassy in the USA had claimed on Twitter that it wanted to change its own name to the “
Embassy of Frenchness
There was also criticism in the USA.
Commenting on the AP recommendation, New York Times columnist Nichoals Kristof wrote: "I wish we leftists could spend less time fussing about language and more time actually solving problems."