FRANCE 2009 The Académie française: custodians of the French language
The Académie française was created in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Its aim was to « fix the French language, giving it rules, rendering it pure and comprehensible by all ».
Acting as official authority on the French language, it is charged with publishing an official dictionary, whose first edition was published in 1694. The ninth edition was started in 1992, and its third tome ending in the letter « Q » will be released by the end of the year.
Discontinued in 1793 during the French Revolution, the Académie was restored in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte. Situated in the gold-domed Institute Français on the quai de Conti opposite the Louvre, the Académie’s illustrious alumni include Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Valérie Giscard d’Estaing, the former French President. Its official patron is the current head of state.
Membership is for life – unless it is revoked for misconduct – and new members only elected when a post is freed up by the death of an « immortal », as they are known.
The official uniform of the « académicien » is an « habit vert » of « green habit », with a long black coat and black-feathered cocked hat embroidered with golden-green leafy motifs, together with black trousers or skirt.
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