AP deems ‘French’ an insult, diplomatic crisis erupts

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The Associated Press (AP), a US-based news agency, defined the word “French” as a condescending expression in its guidelines for journalists and recommended not to use it. After the reactions to the statement, AP apologised and removed the expression from the guide.

The Associated Press writing manual is considered one of the most authoritative guides for journalists on the use of the English language.

The 2022 edition contains 640 pages of content on capitalisation, punctuation, spelling and jargon.

The guidebook is constantly updated, with the AP regularly publishing new recommendations via Twitter.

A tweet published on Thursday sparked a crisis between the agency and France.

On the social media account of the AP Style Guide, journalists were advised not to use generalisations such as “the disabled, the poor, the French” with the suffix “the”.

“Instead, use phrases such as people with mental illness. Use these descriptions only when they are clearly relevant.”

“US Embassy of Frenchness”

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The inclusion of ‘French people’ in the list caused a stir.

Writer Sarah Haider joked, “There is nothing more dehumanising than being considered one of the French”.

In response, the French Embassy in the US changed the name on its social media account to “US Embassy of Frenchness”.

AP deems 'French' an insult, diplomatic crisis erupts 1

“We wonder what the alternative to the term ‘French’ could be,” embassy spokesman Pascal Confavreux said.

AP’s first post was viewed more than 20 million times and shared by 18,000 people

 

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