English invasion 'threatens French language more than Nazis did'

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The invasion of English words poses more of a "grave threat" to French national identity than the imposition of German under the Nazi occupation, according to a group of self-styled guardians of the French language.

Avenir de la langue française (Future of the French language) and eight other groups called on the government to put a stop to the Anglo-onslaught in a pair of opinion pieces in two national daily newspapers on Friday.

As France is embroiled in a heated government-led debate about national identity, the group cited a recent poll suggesting that 80 per cent of the French see their language as crucial to national cohesion.

France introduced the "Toubon" law in 1994, making the use of French obligatory in official government publications, in state-funded schools, in advertisements and French workplaces. This means, for example, that all English words on billboards come with a French translation in a footnote.

However, according to the groups, companies have exploited loopholes in the law to "Anglicise" a host of well-known shop and brand names. Thus, the supermarket chain Auchon has changed the names of its smaller stores from Atac to "Simply Market".

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