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I started a new Thursday night tradition a few weeks ago called “THAT year in French history” where I publish a “franecdote” (an interesting fact or story from French history) on the blog’s Facebook fanpage. The key is that “THAT year” depends on the number of Facebook fans je parle américain has every Thursday night. Without going into a long explanation since you can read more about it here …
… the first franecdote was published on June 20, 2013, when je parle américain had 319 Facebook fans, so it was for the year
And now, here it is for the first time on the blog itself …
Remember that article I wrote recently about Le Petit Robert finally adopting an official French verb for “to French kiss“? Well, 319 years ago in 1694, the Académie française published the first complete edition of its French dictionary: Le Dictionnaire de l’Académie françoise dedié au Roy.
Note: *** No, “françoise” isn’t a typo. It’s the old spelling of “française” used until the 19th century. Oh, and “Roy” wasn’t just some dude named Roy, but the old spelling of “roi“: the king … who was, of course, Louis XIV of France. ***
The Académie was established by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635 and has existed ever since, except for a decade-long hiatus during the French Revolution. Disbanded in 1793 as anti-revolutionary, Napoleon I restored it in 1803. It is composed of 40 members, who are known as the “immortels” (the “immortals”). While considered the official arbiter of all things linguistically French, its rulings — while highly respected — are advisory only and are not legally binding on either the French government or the public. It is considered a conservative force in French culture and, while it has been instrumental in reforming French orthography (spelling), it has stridently opposed evolution of French from the importation of loan-words from other languages, most notably English. (Read more about that here.)
The first edition of the Académie’s Dictionnaire followed the publication of three preliminary editions in 1687. Since 1694, the Académie has published seven new complete editions (the latest in 1932-35). It has been working on a ninth edition, having released volumes in 1992 and 2000. (They’re now up to “mappemonde.”) The Académie has also published two supplemental editions for specialized words in science, art, and technology.
So there you have your franecdote from 319 years ago.
Want to have more franecdotes? Well, we have to have more fans!
If you like je parle américain, recruit your friends and let’s find out some other interesting fact from even longer ago!
© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved