Women can be la cheffe, la docteure

A woman docteur can now officially be called la docteure after the Académie Française voted in favour of the feminisation of job titles.

27 March 2019
By Connexion journalist

Its 40 members, called Immortels, say language has evolved and the feminisation of nouns is now often done automatically in common speech.

Nouns finishing with a silent “e” will not change.

For example, you can say la biologiste and le biologiste.

The word médecin will not be feminised, but it was more complicated with the word chef ... should it be cheffe, cheftaine or  chefesse?

The Académie hesitated but  picked la cheffe, which seems to be the most used in French.

When the noun ends with “eur”, you can add “e” at the end for a woman. So le docteur becomes la docteure, and le professeur is la professeure.    

Some words already in use, such as directrice or institutrice, will not change.

Although most of these nouns were already in common use, the Académie is the official adviser on language.

Concerning important titles, the Académie has reminded us that “we are not a title”.

“The role is different from the person who has it,” it said.  

But feminisation is possible: un lieutenant can be called une lieutenante, un adjudant une adjudante, un maire une maire, and un président can be une présidente.

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