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The Académie Française (literally, French Academy) is a French body founded in 1570 when King Charles IX granted the charter of an "academy of Music and Poetry" to the poet Antoine de Baïf and the musician, Gourville, who named it "Académie Française." On February 10, 1635, Cardinal Richelieu (regent of Louis XIII) expanded it into a national academy for the artistic elite. The Académie, located in Paris, is the official authority on usage, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language. It also encourages the use of French worldwide and awards literary prizes.
As French culture and language have come under increasing pressure with the widespread availability of English media, the Académie has tried to prevent the anglicization of the French language. It is as a direct result of a decision of the Académie that the French word for "computer" is "ordinateur" and that the field of study dealing with computers is known as "l'informatique."
The Académie itself is composed of forty members, known as the immortels (immortals) because they serve for life. Famous current and former immortels include author Victor Hugo, author and director Marcel Pagnol[?], poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, playwright Eugène Ionesco, anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, and physicist Louis-Victor de Broglie.
The Académie is tasked with publishing an official dictionary of the French language. It has done so in 1694, 1718, 1740, 1762, 1798, 1835, 1878, and in 1932-1935. The Académie continues work on the most recent (ninth) 1992 edition of the dictionary, of which the first volume (A to Enzyme) appeared in 1992, and the second volume (Éocène to Mappemonde) appeared in 2000.
Académie's website (in French) (http://www.academie-francaise.fr/)