Official Olympic Language: Why French is Spoken

If the Olympics originated in Greece, why is French an official Olympic language?  It all traces back to Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the Olympic Games at the end of the 19th century when French was considered the language of diplomacy. And, since April 1915, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters have been located in the French-speaking region of Switzerland. Interestingly, according to Rule 23 [correction] of the Olympic Charter, French is an official IOC language, alongside English, but should a discrepancy between a French text and an English one occur in any IOC document, the French text prevails, so in many ways it is the most important official Olympic language.

The Olympics, like most businesses, operates in a multi-lingual world where discrepancies are bound to occur.  Knowing that there is no “Easy Button” to push for clear communication, look for translation companies with a reputation for success. It’s the best way to ensure that a single word or gesture won’t sink a business deal or ruffle the atmosphere at an event. Even the French would say, “Oui,” to that – and it might even warrant an, “Ouah”!

Categories: Inclusion, Culture & Diversity, Updates & Fun


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