Call it a victory for gender equality.
After a lengthy research process, Quebec’s language watchdog says the word “trampoline,” which in French is most often considered a masculine noun, can also be used with the feminine definite article “la.”
In a recent update on its website, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) said it had used historical analysis to conclude it is OK to jump between “le trampoline” and “la trampoline” when referring to the bouncy devices.
“Even if the use of the feminine is not recorded in the main French dictionaries, there is no reason to consider it incorrect,” the organization said.
The watchdog explained that the word is derived from the Italian “trampolino,” which is masculine, but was adopted in French in the early 1960s based on the gender-neutral English-language version “trampoline.”
Curiously, the word was first given the feminine gender in Quebec and the masculine in Europe.
The watchdog noted that most other nouns ending in “-ine” — such as “figurine,” “discipline,” and “adrenaline” — are feminine, perhaps explaining why Quebecers chose to adopt that usage.
It was less able to explain why a number of other nouns, especially those adopted from English, have been feminized in Quebec but assigned the masculine gender in Europe.
The office noted that the use of the feminine “la trampoline” has appeared to decline in recent years, which it ascribed in part to the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics, which places it in “an international context.”
While use of the masculine form of the word is gaining popularity in Quebec, the watchdog noted that “the feminine remains very present in usage in Quebec and is quite legitimate, and not only orally,” since it is found in various publications and the promotional literature of some trampoline manufacturers.
In the end, the organization concluded that freedom of choice should reign.
“It is up to people to choose the use that suits them and which seems to them the most adapted to the context in which the word is used,” it said.