France's prominent Le Petit Robert dictionary, considered a linguistic authority in the country, recently added a new pronoun to its online edition. The word is "iel", a gender-neutral merging of the masculine "il" (he) and the feminine "elle" (she). This new pronoun, intended for those who identify as neither male nor female, is already used online and by younger generations. But the move to include it in the dictionary provoked a backlash from politicians and linguists. One vocal critic of the new pronoun is French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. He says it's the latest expression of "wokism" which, he claims, threatens France's universalist model. We take a closer look.
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