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Friday, May 1, 1998 Published at 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK


Special Report

It's a boy! The euro gets a gender



Boy or girl? It's the first question to occupy the thoughts of any expectant parent.


Benedictine Pavious: "I'm stunned that it took months to decide" (2'29")
And in France the same question has been asked over that most eagerly awaited new offspring - the euro.

The sexual politics of Europe's single currency is an issue that has consumed the French for several months.


[ image: Proud father? French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin]
Proud father? French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
The Paris government even established a special commission of language experts to debate whether the masculine or feminine article should be used for the euro.

Finally, they decided. The euro will be male.

A French Government spokesman said: "This type of word would tend towards the masculine.

"There is no example of a word ending in 'o' which is feminine."

Benedictine Pavious of the BBC French Service said: "Unfortunately, the masculine conveys more authority, it would seem.

"The dollar is 'le dollar', we have le franc, although the British pound is feminine."

Of course, economic convergence was never going to be straight-forward. But the tender gender is just one example of how the French have made hard work, so far, out of the euro.


[ image: Euro notes]
Euro notes
Another quandary facing the commission was how to pronounce the term 'cent', which, in France, sounds very similar to other words including 'one hundred'.

The commission found that the word cent would "create disadvantages in our language".

But one alternative, to use the present French word centime, was deemed too confusing while both francs and euros are in circulation between 1999 and 2001.

Unable to agree on a come up with a satisfactory long-term solution, the commission has decreed that a transitional name of "eurocentime" will be used until 2002 - when another decision will have to be taken.





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