Chère Académie française,

academiePlease accept my application to become one of ‘les immortels’.

I have always dreamed of being immortal. Imagine my surprise and delight upon discovering that such a job description exists, and that it can be found among your illustrious number on the Académie Française, protectors extraordinaire of the French language!

Why should you consider my humble application?

Firstly, let me assure you that I meet your sole qualification of being under the age of 75 at the time of application, and, as an aside, that jacket would look good on me. Secondly, although English is my first language, I have spent nearly half of my life in this fair land and have come to appreciate both its language and its denizens, along with the produce of its labours, namely the fine foods and wines of la belle France. At the same time, I have become intimately familiar with its weaknesses as perceived both from within and beyond its borders.

Let me put this simply: I think you need me. As someone who has long worked in the field of communications, who understands brand and is familiar with the blogosphere, I can bring you kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The Academy has a bit of an image problem, you see. The French perceive you as a bunch of decrepit old coots, completely disconnected from reality, falling asleep in your plush chairs – I among them, until it became clear that I had confused you with the elected members of our National Assembly.

My confusion can perhaps be forgiven. You, too, are elected by vote, although uniquely among yourselves, a far more civilized approach than asking the public to weigh in, n’est-ce pas? What, after all, does the average Joe (sorry, make that Jacques) know about the language of Molière?

I do realize, bien évidemment, that you will not be able to consider my candidacy until a chair has been duly vacated, that is, until one of your number has gone on to better things – oh, let’s just call a spade a spade: popped his clogs, kicked the can, croaked. As you can see, I have a fair grasp of the vernacular in my native tongue and une maîtrise certaine in French.

I will be an ardent defender of French. I will fight to the death against the dumbing down of this great and wonderful language and resist further indignities like that of the spelling reform which has recently brought your name into the news. I understand it took from 1990 until the present to implement the reform, based upon a decision not of the Académie Française but of the Superior Council of the French language.

In conclusion, I will do everything in my power to maintain the original orthography of our language, from the jaunty circumflex in ‘août’ to the inimitable ‘i’ in oignon.

Till death us do meet.

Madame Mel

30 comments

  1. coteetcampagne · February 11, 2016

    I’ll sponsor you, even if I can’t vote.
    Anyway, what do the immortals think about this dumbng down of their beautiful language? I am not impressed as I have barely learnt the current spelling rules.

    PS , I LOVE that jacket .

    • MELewis · February 11, 2016

      Ha, ha, great minds think alike! (Or perhaps fools seldom differ? 😉 My first reaction was ‘How dare they change the rules after I went to so much trouble to learn them!’. The second was ‘I love that jacket’. We are kindred spirits!

  2. A.PROMPTreply · February 11, 2016

    How could you resist with a job title like that and a cool jacket as well!?! I vote for you!

    • MELewis · February 11, 2016

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! I’ll let you borrow the jacket. 😉

  3. Elyse Brady · February 11, 2016

    Great post MEL……How about a campaign in the US instead? Seems Canadians can run for President now. Oh, but wait, no “foreigners” allowed at the border. You’d have my vote!! Love Elyse

    • MELewis · February 11, 2016

      Let’s run for office together, assuming I don’t get turned away at the border. (I do still have my U.S. social security card so who knows?) You can be president, vice is more my thing. 😉 We’ll have everyone dancing in the streets!

  4. Food,Photography & France · February 11, 2016

    I wish there was a similar body with the power to control the descent of the English language into a mongrel of lazy accents and excuses. I am a lover of language and particularly the French language. Happily, from what I can see, the demands of the French education system seems to have inculcated knowledge and pride in and for their language….which is not happening in perfide Albion:)

    • MELewis · February 11, 2016

      I confess I had to google Perfide Albion. Clearly your knowledge and appreciation of history makes you a superior candidate for the illustrious Académie, Roger. 😉

  5. Food,Photography & France · February 11, 2016

    …by the way, what is the inimitable “i” in oignon?

    • MELewis · February 11, 2016

      The one right after the ‘o’…that they are now making optional. Ognon. How perfidious is that?

  6. Suzanne et Pierre · February 11, 2016

    This post made me smile. I remember the orthography controversy in the 90s and thought it had gone the way of the dinosaurs and had been forgotten forever. I was totally surprised to see it reappear recently and being now implemented. Some of the decisions may make sense but when you look more closely this new orthography introduces even more exceptions than there already were so I don’t think it will simplify anything. I am all in favour of the old spelling and the cohabitation of the two will make things very confusing. I agree that language should evolve but you have to implement consistent rules not mess it up the way they have done with this reform.

    By the way, you may be aware that there is now a Canadian at the Académie: Dany Laferrière – an Haiti-born Canadian who writes wonderful novel…don’t know what he thinks of this new orthography…

    • MELewis · February 11, 2016

      I can only agree that it will be confusing with two sets of spellings. Perhaps they wanted to ease the transition by allowing both spellings and presumably to avoid too much controversy? If that was their strategy I think they have failed. 😉 Complexity and confusion often seem to reign in France, though, so perhaps most French people will find it ‘normal’. I am not familiar with Dany Laferrière – will look up his books. Merci!

  7. zipfslaw1 · February 11, 2016

    You get a sword, too.

    • MELewis · February 11, 2016

      Well, that seals it then. 🙂

  8. Osyth · February 11, 2016

    I feel a ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ moment coming on …. just bump off the wearers of the beauteous jackets one by one and take up your rightful place. I’ll vote for you (and I think I can since it’s only General Elections I am exempt from)

    • MELewis · February 12, 2016

      I do appreciate the vote of confidence but unfortunately only the real, live (emphasis on live) Academy members get to vote! 😦 As for your dastardly strategy, dear Osyth, maybe I’ll bump one off so that at least I’d get the jacket.

      • Osyth · February 12, 2016

        Real live or really half dead? These closed shops take the cookie but I do rather admire them. As for the jacket – definitely worth a creative murder 😉

  9. Lisa @ cheergerm · February 11, 2016

    I would so vote for you, if nothing else, just so you could wear that rockin jacket!

    • MELewis · February 12, 2016

      Merci Lisa! Given the comments, maybe somebody should do a knock-off of those jackets? On second thought, I’m surprised Christian Lacroix hasn’t already!

  10. davidprosser · February 12, 2016

    You must win a post as that jacket would be stunning on you.As a virtual newcomer to them, your passion for the French language would probably be all he greater. You have my vote.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    • MELewis · February 12, 2016

      Yes, I would absolutely bring passion, a fresh set of eyes and cut a dashing form in the duds. Merci Monsieur! xo

  11. poshbirdy · February 12, 2016

    Hilarious. But ognon? Really? Weird!

    • MELewis · February 12, 2016

      Isn’t it awful? I was really very surprised by the idea of actually changing the spelling of words. It seems so disrespectful to the etymology – not to mention the poor expats who struggled to learn the spellings!

  12. Margo Lestz · February 15, 2016

    That’s great! You would certainly get my vote (if only I were an Immortal)!
    Very clever and well written! 🙂

    • MELewis · February 15, 2016

      Glad you enjoyed it! I am honoured to get your vote even if it doesn’t count. 😉

  13. Mél@nie · February 15, 2016

    Madame Mel, you’ve made my day and I vote for you – even though I’ve never dreamed to be immortal – kinda boring! 🙂
    * * *
    @”I meet your sole qualification of being under the age of 75…” – me, too, également… and I’ve lived longer in France than in my native country, but English has been my 2nd language, while French – the 3rd one… well, last but not least: I’m naturalisée française, so NO way, I presume!!! 🙂

    • MELewis · February 15, 2016

      Chère Mélanie, your vote warms my heart. Immortality, if ever attained, would indeed be boring…but like aging, I feel it is better than the alternative. 😉 On the other hand, I’m sure there would not a dull moment in those hallowed chambers of the AF. And naturalisée or not, I am sure we would both make excellent additions to their number, for the diversity and passion we would bring to the discussion! 🙂

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