Académie française

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L'Académie française (French pronunciation: [lakademi fʁɑ̃sɛz]), also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII.[1] Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte.[1] It is the oldest of the five académies of the Institut de France.

The Académie consists of forty members, known as immortels (immortals).[2] New members are elected by the members of the Académie itself. Académicians hold office for life, but they may be removed for misconduct. The body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language; it is charged with publishing an official dictionary of the language. Its rulings, however, are only advisory; not binding on either the public or the government.



The Académie's origins occur in an informal literary group that grew out of the salons held at the Hôtel de Rambouillet, during the late 1620s and early 1630s. They began meeting at Valentin Conrart's house, seeking informality. There were then nine members. Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of France, took the body under his protection, and in anticipation of the formal creation of the academy, new members were appointed in 1634. On 22 February 1635, at Richelieu's urging, King Louis XIII granted letters patent formally establishing the body; according to the letters patent registered at the Parlement de Paris on 10 July 1637,[1] the Académie française was "to labor with all the care and diligence possible, to give exact rules to our language, to render it capable of treating the arts and sciences". The Académie française has remained responsible for the regulation of French grammar, spelling, and literature.

Richelieu's model, the first academy devoted to winnowing out the "impurities" of a language, was the Accademia della Crusca, founded in Florence in 1582, which formalized the already dominant position of the Tuscan dialect of Florence as the model for Italian; the Florentine academy had published its Vocabolario in 1612.[3]

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