9/26/2008

Dictatorship of the Majority

Do linguistic minorities [actually French speakers are the majority in Quebec] want too much? Over the water, in Canada, the once despised French-speakers of Quebec province are getting their own back. Marc Angenot, is a francophone professor who teaches at Montreal's anglophone McGill University:

"The most ludicrous law is about the size of letters that you can use on posters. In Quebec, English must be one third the size of letters used in French. And the colour, of course. The hue of the colour must be also more prominent in French. That means that all the time people are in front of the courts, challenging such and such aspects of laws that are not applicable in many ways, because they are contrary to the Charter of Rights in terms of freedom of expression".

Laurence McFalls, meanwhile, is an anglophone professor at the francophone University of Montreal:

"The only thing that's keeping Montreal from losing its French face is the official protection given to the French language. If the city were officially bilingual, the forces of assimilation to English would be even greater. The language laws which, for example, force immigrants to send their children to school in French, end up with the result that their children at least know some French by the time they're adults because they learn English anyway. At least the bilingual character of the city is maintained - as certain anglophones would say - by ramming the French language down people's throats."

4 comments:

angryfrenchguy.com said...

Tu te trompe d'histoire, capitaine. L'Anglais mondial ce n'est pas la fin du français ni des autre langues, c'est un monde de plus en plus multilingue dans lequel les unilingues sont les perdants.

L'anglais est de plus en plus parlé, mais le mandarin, l'espagnol, l'arabe se développent encore plus rapidement et même le français est en croissance.

http://www.nadeaubarlow.com/pages/resumesof

Unfrench said...

Wrong. English speaking economies have developed much faster than French-speaking or Spanish-speaking ones. Plus, French is not growing but receding: in the last few decades the French speaking world has lost Vietnam, Laos, Kamputchea, Lebanon and Rwanda, to name but a few, without gaining any new countries. French native speakers have very total fertility rates, whereas French as a second or third language is losing ground around the world. The French language is facing a bleak future. By choosing to borrow its values from revolutionary atheism, socialism, nationalism and freemasonry, France has condemned its culture to sterility and decay. Anglo-American culture is alive, fertile, fun. It is a culture of freedom. This is why the world is learning English. The world is not interested in your atheist culture of death.

Snake Oil Baron said...

Mandarin has a small geographic extent and while Spanish and Arabic are spoken in multiple nations (though Arabic is not very linguistically uniform between its nations) these languages, like French, have a highly regional nature. Moreover, the enthusiasm with which the people of these language regions learn English for career opportunities, consume English cultural products like news and entertainment and express their views on the Internet in English to reach wider audiences and preserve a little anonymity within their communities demonstrates that English has no real competitor as a global language. It is true that the world is becoming more multilingual in that people in all parts of the world are learning English as a second language. But the fact is that if you are unilingual English, learning a second language is valuable but not more so than learning to play a musical instrument or a marketable skill or a technical body of knowledge. The fact that there are so many potential languages to learn means that unlike people learning English, the potential benefit to picking any one of them is reduced, even if you are able to master one of them with such a limited amount of exposure to media, culture and conversation in, say, Mandarin or Arabic.

Unfrench said...

snake oil baron said...
"Mandarin has a small geographic extent and while Spanish and Arabic are spoken in multiple nations (though Arabic is not very linguistically uniform between its nations) these languages, like French, have a highly regional nature. Moreover, the enthusiasm with which the people of these language regions learn English for career opportunities, consume English cultural products like news and entertainment and express their views on the Internet in English to reach wider audiences and preserve a little anonymity within their communities demonstrates that English has no real competitor as a global language. It is true that the world is becoming more multilingual in that people in all parts of the world are learning English as a second language. But the fact is that if you are unilingual English, learning a second language is valuable but not more so than learning to play a musical instrument or a marketable skill or a technical body of knowledge. The fact that there are so many potential languages to learn means that unlike people learning English, the potential benefit to picking any one of them is reduced, even if you are able to master one of them with such a limited amount of exposure to media, culture and conversation in, say, Mandarin or Arabic."

Excellent logic in excellent English, snake oil baron! It also strikes me as odd how so many people choose to regard the rise of English as an occasion to lament the decline of other lingua francas such as French instead of rejoicing in the possibilities offered by a global language.