A tweet that caused an uproar. On Thursday January 27, 2023, the American agency AP Stylebook, or The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, recommended that certain turns of phrase should no longer be used, deemed “general and often dehumanizing”.
Here is the content of the post in French: “We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing labels beginning with ‘the’, such as ‘the poor’, ‘the mentally ill’, ‘the French’, ‘the handicapped’, ‘graduates’. Use words like ‘people with mental illness’ instead. And only use these descriptions when they are clearly relevant.”
Very quickly, Internet users took up the tweet with humor. Journalist Ben Collins (NBC News) soberly replied “people experiencing Frenchness” (Frenchness in English).
For his part, Ari Paul tweets: “So we replace ‘the French’ with ‘people with a penchant for cheese’ or what?”
The official account of the French Embassy in the United States has also taken to the game, pretending to rename itself “Embassy of Frenchness in the United States”.
After initially responding that using the term “the French” was inappropriate, the agency eventually deleted its initial tweet. In the columns of Le Monde, Lauren Easton, vice-president in charge of communication at AP, explains: “The reference to the ‘French’, as well as the reference to the ‘graduates’, is an effort to show that ‘the’ labels should not be used for anyone, whether traditionally stereotyped as positive, negative or neutral”.