English slogan in Paris Olympic bid ruffles feathers

Attempts to woo the IOC with English-friendly material has seen a backlash with certain citizens

English slogan in Paris Olympic bid ruffles feathers

The official launch of the Paris 2024 bid kicked off at the Eiffel Tower in central Paris on Friday [AP Photo/Francois Mori]

The Paris bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics has hit a hurdle in France after the games’ slogan was announced – and revealed to be in English.

‘Made for Sharing,” as reported by Le Parisien, has replaced the working slogan, a necessary part of all bids made to the IOC. Previously the Paris bid had been working with ‘La force d’un rêve’, or ‘the power of a dream’, but the new English-language slogan has been embraced by mayor Anne Hidalgo, who tweeted her support

Currying IOC favour

“The objective is to sell the project to an international audience,” said Etienne Thobois, the director of Paris 2024, to France Info.

The move to an English-language slogan has been regarded as an attempt to curry favour with the members of the International Olympic Committee, where four out of five voters request to receive documents in English.

Furthermore, when Paris lost the 2012 games to London, despite being the bookies’ favourites, the bid team failed to find favour with the then motto ‘L’amour des jeux’, or ‘love of the games’.

Against cultural hegemony

But the selection of an English-language slogan has not been universally embraced in a country that prides itself on its own language and culture. The use of English has been criticised, particularly considering that the official working language of the Olympics is French, in honour of the modern games’ revival being spearheaded by a Frenchman.

Within minutes of the slogan being announced, a French newspaper was running the headline: “Sorry Pierre de Coubertin, the slogan for Paris 2024 will be in English.”

The encroaching Anglicisation of the French language remains a concern for the Ministry of Culture and the Académie française, the body that maintains strict control of standardised French and introduces neologisms for emerging English terms like ‘sexting’ and ‘binge-drinking’.

"Ça me choque beaucoup!"

Florian Philippot, vice-president of the Front National and an advisor to presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, said he was “extremely shocked” by the ‘Made for sharing’ slogan.

“The world expects France to be France,” he said.

On Twitter, other French citizens vented their own frustrations, asking “why not in Russian or Chinese?”

Another tweeted to the city’s mayor saying: “Paris, an Anglophone city: bilingual posters, and now an English slogan for the Olympic Games! Are you ashamed of our language?”

The official Paris 2024 Olympic bid will be launched on Friday night at the Eiffel Tower. Paris will compete against Los Angeles and Budapest in the contest, with the victor announced in September when the IOC members cast their ballots in Lima.

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