An End to the French language
Why the French must learn English
Proposed talk in English or French
Simon Hamilton - Frogologue
Increasingly beaten by the tsunami of English sweeping across the world, French is digging itself into a defensive position. Its arguments of historical legitimacy and the grandeur that was France are simply reminders of its lack of vitality today.
In a world where markets, science and conversations are all in English, France labors to understand them and, worse, fails to be heard. Why so much resistance to English? And what future lies in store for French?
The talk looks at the question from four standpoints:
1) Current Situation
For most of its speakers, French is just too difficult: its verbs are insane, its grammar byzantine, and spelling mistakes have become a national epidemic: name-and-shame sites such as bescherelletamere.fr have more visits and credibility than the Académie française.
France was born of the Roman Empire and long considered itself its natural successor. With the Renaissance and beginnings of absolute monarchy, France became aware of the need for a language, far removed from the everyday vernacular of ordinary folk, on par with its pretentions to European glory. Over the next few centuries, French embroidered itself into a delicate monstrosity of refined elegance, imposing itself as language of the Courts of Europe. With the Revolution, it tried to divorce itself from its aristocratic past and, as shape-shifter as the politicians of the day, proclaim itself universal language of the people. Since then, left-wing in speech but right-wing in action, correct French is the PC avowal of appurtenance to a social class camouflaged as one “cultured” as a means of differentiating oneself from the masses.
3) Social Facts
Today, French is a glass ceiling to social mobility. The national obsession of criticizing form over content is a genuine barrier to French expression. Due to the complexity of the language, French-speakers in Belgium and Canada score well below their Flemish- and English-speaking peers. In Africa, the situation of French-speaking countries is a disaster. And far from its rallying cry of protection against the big, bad wolf of America and Hollywood, the goal of “francophony” is to replace English imperialism by its own.
Brought up in a retrograde vision of France the glorious and convinced of the cultural and social superiority of its language, the average Frenchperson finds leaning English somewhat beneath them… But, like it nor not, English is already the language of business, science, technology, internet and all international communication of any importance. It is therefore a matter of urgency that France accept this and decide, once and for all, to learn English. It might hurt but, never fear, French is far from disappearing. The future holds more than one surprise!
Despite his stance towards the French language, the author is a definite francophile.
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