AP deletes viral tweet regarding ‘the’ French

The Associated Press has deleted a tweet giving guidance on AP style that went viral over its inclusion of “the” French as a term to be avoided.

The AP Stylebook’s Twitter account on Thursday posted recommendations to avoid the use of “the” before certain descriptors “such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, [and] the college-educated” because that phrasing can be “dehumanizing.” The post went viral with many Twitter users responding and making jokes about the inclusion of “the French.”

The French Embassy in the United States was one of the accounts that responded to the post, posting a screenshot of it changing its name from “French Embassy U.S.” to “Embassy of Frenchness in the U.S.”

“I guess this is us now…” it commented.

Ian Bremmer, the president of the political risk analysis and consulting firm Eurasia Group, also commented, tweeting, “don’t say: ‘the french’ say: ‘people experiencing frenchness.’”

The AP tweeted early Friday morning that the use of “the French” in its tweet was inappropriate and caused offense unintentionally. It also posted an updated tweet on the same guidance without reference to the people of France.

The account tweeted later Friday that writing “French people” or “French citizens” is acceptable, “but ‘the’ terms for any people can sound dehumanizing and imply that a group is a monolith instead of a diverse group of individuals.”

It said writers should be specific when possible, giving “people with incomes below the poverty line” as an example.

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