Institut national des langues et civilizations orientales

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Inalco & BULAC, 2015

The Institut national des langues et civilizations orientales (INALCO) is a grand établissement in Paris specializing in oriental languages ​​and cultures . In addition to transdisciplinary research into cultures outside of Western Europe, the main focus of the institute is on university teaching. More than a hundred languages ​​from Africa, Asia, Eastern and Central Europe are taught at INALCO.

Originally founded at the end of the 18th century as the École spéciale des langues orientales , the main task of the institution was initially to train oriental specialists (translators, officers, scholars). The experts specially trained there were supposed to help protect French interests in the affected regions of the world. In this tradition, INALCO is still considered to be an important training center for the French foreign policy elite.


Under the name École spéciale des Langues orientales , a school for oriental languages ​​was founded on March 30, 1795 at the suggestion of Joseph Lakanal and a resolution of the National Convention , which was initially located in the premises of the Bibliothèque nationale . The first languages ​​taught there were Arabic (high-level language and dialect), Turkish , Persian , Crimean Tatar and Malay . The institution was later renamed several times. First to École royale , then École impériale , then École nationale . Finally, the addition of vivantes ( des langues orientales vivantes ) was added. In 1971 the institute was given its current name "Institut national des langues et civilizations orientales (INALCO)" . Colloquially it is often called Langues O ' (short form of Langues Orientales ).

In the 19th century, other languages ​​were added to the curriculum and there were numerous enlargements, in particular through the merger with the École des Jeunes de langues , which was established in 1669 by Colbert to train interpreters in the languages ​​of the Levant .

Since the historic main building in rue de Lille no longer offered enough space for the growing crowd of students, INALCO moved into its new premises in rue des Grands Moulins in the 13th arrondissement in September 2011. It is now united under one roof with the “Bibliothèque universitaire des langues et civilizations (BULAC)” .

Structure and study

In the 2016/2017 academic year, 9272 people were enrolled at INALCO. More than two thirds (67.3%) of the student body are women. In addition, the high average age of the students of 29 years should also be emphasized. These numbers can be explained by the fact that many students are already working and are studying part-time at INALCO.

In organizational terms, INALCO is divided into 12 departments: (1) Africa and Indian Ocean, (2) South Asia and Himalayas, (3) Southeast Asia and the Pacific, (4) Arabic Studies, (5) Sinology, (6) Korean Studies, (7) Hebrew and Jewish Studies, (8) Japanese Studies, (9) Russian Studies, (10) Eurasia, (11) Europe and (12) American Languages ​​and Cultures.

During the course, you usually specialize in a (main) language (e.g. Arabic) and study it in its various facets: dialect (Egyptian, Syrian-Lebanese, Maghreb and Gulf dialects), standard language (press literature), technical language ( Economy, politics, poetry, religion). In addition to acquiring language skills, INALCO focuses on civilizations . Under this heading, the social science courses are summarized in which certain topics of the cultural area are dealt with from political science, anthropological or historical aspects.

INALCO as a training center

With a view to your later professional life, you can specialize in certain fields at INALCO. For example, the options French as a Foreign Language (FLE), International Trade or International Relations are available. Even if former students of the institute now work in very different professions, their excessive presence in French ministries and authorities is striking. A considerable number of the graduates find employment there. In 2017, Vice President Vincent Benet highlighted the high number of French ambassadors and senior officers who have studied at the institute. Due to their study profile and their special language and regional skills, INALCO students are also sought after by French intelligence services ( DGSE , DGSI ).

In addition, INALCO cooperates with numerous ministries and authorities (e.g. Ministère des Armées , Ministère de l'Intérieur , Ministère de l'Europe et des affaires étrangères , Cour des comptes , Gendarmerie nationale , Collège de France ) and regularly trains selected employees . The cooperation with the French army is particularly close. Every year she assigns several officers to INALCO so that they can complete several years of study there. After graduation, the officers are mostly employed as military attachés at embassies.

Well-known graduates (selection)

Professors (selection)

  • Ryōko Sekiguchi (* 1970), Japanese poet, art historian and translator
  • Peter Stockinger (* 1956), Professor of Cognitive Semantics, Cultural Semiotics, Discourse Semiotics as well as Semiotics and New Media


  • Notice historique sur l'École Spéciale des Langues Orientales Vivantes. Ernest Leroux, Paris 1883, online (PDF; 8.2 MB)
  • Louis Bazin: L'École des langues orientales et l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (1795-1995), in: Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 1995, pp. 983-996, online
  • Marie-Claire Bergère and Angel Pino (eds.): Un siècle d'enseignement du chinois à l'École des langues orientales: 1840-1945: bicentenaire des Langues orientales . Paris, l'Asiathèque, 1995 ISBN 2-911053-06-0
  • Pierre Labrousse (Ed.): Langues O '1795-1995. Deux siècles d'histoire de l'École des langues orientales . Paris, Éditions Hervas, 1995, ISBN 2-903118-90-6
  • Marie de Testa, Antoine Gautier: Drogmans et diplomates européens auprès de la Porte ottomane . Éditions ISIS, Istanbul, 2003, ISBN 975-428-258-7

Web links

Commons : Institut national des langues et civilizations orientales  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Une centaine de langues et civilizations. June 22, 2015, accessed February 20, 2019 (French).
  2. Une histoire riche. September 24, 2013, accessed February 20, 2019 (French).
  3. Une histoire riche. September 24, 2013, accessed February 20, 2019 (French).
  4. L'Inalco en chiffres. September 25, 2013, accessed February 20, 2019 (French).
  5. Départements, filières et sections. December 6, 2013, accessed February 20, 2019 (French).
  6. Brochure to clarify the role of civilizations
  7. More than thirty former INALCO students worked as ambassadors in 2017.
  9. Le nouveau profile des espions. July 1, 2013, accessed February 20, 2019 .
  10. ^ Signature d'une convention entre le CDEC et l'Inalco. January 14, 2019, accessed February 20, 2019 (French).
  11. ^ Formation of the officiers de l'armée de terre dans les grandes écoles. October 19, 2011, accessed on February 20, 2019 (fr-fr).

Coordinates: 48 ° 49 ′ 38 "  N , 2 ° 22 ′ 34"  E