10/06/2008

Is Francophone Subsaharan Africa Really Francophone?

In Medium of Instruction Policies by James W. Tollefson, Amy Tsui:



Medium of Instruction Policies: Which Agenda? Whose Agenda?
By James W. Tollefson, Amy Tsui
Published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
ISBN 0805842780, 9780805842784
306 pages

6 comments:

Kian-Paul said...

What do you mean with the so-called 'worldwide decline of French'? You can only speak of decline if there had been a triumph or a boom of French in Africa. During the colonial era only a very tiny minority used French. Reclus, the founder of the word 'francophonie' wrote at the beginning of the 20th century that fifty-five million people all over the world were francophone. According to recent estimations about 200 million people were French speakers on five continents in 2007, 25 million more than in 2007. French will gain more spealers just like English, Portuguese or Spanish, the colonial languages.
You may say that French is loosing the prestige it once had in the 18th century. In this I agree with you, but in so far it shares the destiny of German or Italian whose impact was far more in former times than nowadays.

Unfrench said...

"What do you mean with the so-called 'worldwide decline of French'? You can only speak of decline if there had been a triumph or a boom of French in Africa"
When I write "worldwide", I mean "worldwide", not just Africa. Learn to read.

"According to recent estimations"
Which estimates? Even those the French make tend to vary and contradict each other.

"about 200 million people were French speakers on five continents in 2007, 25 million more than in 2007"
Great math. Did you go to French schools? It shows.

"French will gain more spealers just like English, Portuguese or Spanish, the colonial languages."
And what about the geographical shrinking of la francophonie? Lebanon and Rwanda are being lost for la francophonie while Indochina is already entirely non-francophone. When the area of a lingua franca is shrinking, that's when you can start talking about decline. That would be the first phase of decline. The second phase almost always follows the first: that's when absolute numbers start falling. Has this second phase begun? Probably, and if it hasn't yet, we are not going to have to wait for much longer before it happens as French has to contend with lots of lingua francas throughout Africa.

"You may say that French is loosing the prestige it once had in the 18th century."
I am not interested in prestige. Only French culture nationalists are obsessed with prestige. Most people learn languages because they are useful and some learn them because they convey a vibrant MODERN culture. Now French is less and less useful and la francophonie is as exciting as a museum, and so fewer and fewer people are learning French around the world. Just as simple as that.

"it shares the destiny of German or Italian whose impact was far more in former times than nowadays."
And yet the Germans and Italians are far less whiny and dishonest about it, which is why nobody will mock them for it.

Kian-Paul said...

Obviously you are determined to demonstrate that the French language has no future and everybody should use English.
After the French bashing unlashed by Republican reactionaries who could not forgive France's position in the Iraq turmoil, you want to continue with French language and Francophonie bashing. Nobody compels you to use French, you continue speaking your English mumbo-jumbo we all had to learn in school reluctingly.

But if you really want an intellectual debate, you also have to take care of those facts that probably do not fit to your anti-French ideology. (Sorry besides I am German being fond the friendship between France and my country)
Besides English is largely based on French items, you may consult any encyclopedia, the Britannica or Wikipedia f. i, that gives evidence of the importance of the French language:
a) Encyclopedia Britannica 2008:
Romance language spoken in France, Belgium, and Switzerland; in Canada (principally Quebec) and northern New England; and in many other countries and regions formerly or currently governed by France. It is an official language of more than 25 countries.

b) Wikipedia (English version)
French (français, French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃sɛ]) is a Romance language spoken around the world by 118 million people as a native language, and by about 180 to 260 million people as a second or third language, with significant speakers in 54 countries. Most native speakers of the language live in France, where the language originated. Most of the rest live in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Francophone Africa, Luxembourg, Monaco, or in the United States. [...]
It is an official language in 29 countries, most of which form what is called in French La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations. According to the European Union, 129 million people in 27 member states speak French, of which 59 million (12%) are native speakers and 69 million (14%) claim to speak it as a second language, which makes it the third most spoken second language in the Union, after English and German.

c) The numbers I quoted are published on a Swiss internet page (http://www.swissinfo.ch/fre/dossiers/sommet_de_la_francophonie/index.html?siteSect=23430)
200 million people in 2007
175 million people in 2005 (sorry for the typo)

In the Lebanon French never had an official status, but is largely spoken by the Christian minority. In the neighborhood, in Israel, French has more than 200.000 speakers. Israel is engaged to enter the Francophonie Organization, but the Arabian members are preventing it from being admitted as a ful member.

In Rwanda you really can notice the gain of English influence. But why? Because the actual rulers of the countries come from Uganda and are English-speaking in fact. But Rwanda can hardly serve as proof of the decline of French. In Rwanda the native language Kinyaranda is spoken by every Rwandan citizen. Colonial languages like English or French only have technical impact on instutions but hardly on daily life. In fact Rwanda is cross road between the Francophone and Anglophone Africa. Therefore English AND French are official languages. Because of a better school system French is learnt by far more pupils and students than before 1994.

It's good that you publish this internet page, but if you really want a serious debate and not a propaganda show, it would be reasonable to be more sophisticated. By the way what is deeper meaning of the so-called decline of French ... that Old Europe is collapsing while the USA are the on the bright side...
Do you read the 'Wall Street Journal'?

Unfrench said...

I have just posted this on the same topic:

I keep hearing from the French that the global number of French speakers is increasing because of black African demographics. This is a red herring. Here is why:
Africa accounts only for a part of la francophonie. Everywhere on earth outside of Africa, France, Quebec and France both knowledge AND use of French are dwindling fast.West African countries that have French as an official language have high total fertility rates, but also very high rates of mortality and emigration. Emigrants from French speaking countries tend to move to English speaking countries such as Nigeria and the US. The net gain is therefore low and francophone fertility rates will in the long run benefit the rival language, English.Even second and third-generation African immigrants to France continue to use pidgins and creoles in the ghettoes where most of them live, while most of them cannot speak or write native-level French. Those pidgins and creoles are not understandable by non-African speakers of French. Mainstream French is being quickly Africanized to the point of discouraging non-African foreigners from studying French. Does this benefit French?French is a medium of instruction in many black African countries, but African education systems are huge failures. Just because French is taught at schools doesn't mean people are actually learning it. English is taught to virtually every French student at all French schools, but you could hardly say that every Frenchman is an Anglophone. As for West Africans, they have very few incentives to practise French outside of schools, which is why most of them speak or write no French at all. Francophones who argue that African demographics automatically strengthens la francophonie never reveal in which African countries an absolute increase of French speakers is supposedly taking place. I have hard evidence that the use of French is actually diminishing in many African countries. This is the case in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Rwanda. Just click the matching label links on the right-hand side of this blog. Even in the Ivory Coast, pidgins are increasingly used where pure French used to be de rigueur. In Subsaharan Africa, studies and reports suggest that the teaching of French at schools has done little to improve either literacy or the knowledge of French. Even if the French can prove using actual studies that a few of a France's not-so-former African colonies have witnessed an absolute increase in numbers of French speakers, and I have yet to see any, the overall picture for Africa will of an absolute decline, given that Africa's most populous countries are seeing their disenfranchised populations turning their backs on French, and when it comes to global numbers, the decline of French is nothing short of a catastrophe, a huge blow indeed to inflated French egos.

Now back to your post, kian-paul:

"Obviously you are determined to demonstrate that the French language has no future and everybody should use English."

Exactly. 

"After the French bashing unlashed by Republican reactionaries who could not forgive France's position in the Iraq turmoil, you want to continue with French language and Francophonie bashing."

I am French, born and raised,and I am not a Republican. Infact, I loathe the idea of a Republic.

"Nobody compels you to use French, you continue speaking your English mumbo-jumbo we all had to learn in school reluctingly."

Did you learn French?

"But if you really want an intellectual debate, you also have to take care of those facts that probably do not fit to your anti-French ideology. (Sorry besides I am German being fond the friendship between France and my country)"

The French are not your friends. They are exploiting you Schmucks. Exploitation is not friendship.
 
"Besides English is largely based on French items, you may consult any encyclopedia, the Britannica or Wikipedia f. i, that gives evidence of the importance of the French language: 
a) Encyclopedia Britannica 2008:
Romance language spoken in France, Belgium, and Switzerland; in Canada (principally Quebec) and northern New England; and in many other countries and regions formerly or currently governed by France. It is an official language of more than 25 countries."

So what? French is in decline in most countries in which it has official status. Read my blog.

"b) Wikipedia (English version) (...)"

Wikipedia is not a valid reference when it comes to stats, everybody know that, especially the article about France, which has been hijacked by French nationalists. They have even blocked users from editing it to prevent people adding facts that don't fit into their nationalist agenda.

"c) The numbers I quoted are published on a Swiss internet page (http://www.swissinfo.ch/fre/dossiers/sommet_de_la_francophonie/index.html?siteSect=23430)
200 million people in 20074
175 million people in 2005 (sorry for the typo)"

The numbers you are quoting are not on the propaganda web page you linked to. Put a bit more effort into it.

"In the Lebanon French never had an official status, but is largely spoken by the Christian minority.

It is in decline in Lebanon. Click the link Lebanon on the right-hand side of this blog. Everybody knows that French is in decline there.

"In the neighborhood, in Israel, French has more than 200.000 speakers. Israel is engaged to enter the Francophonie Organization, but the Arabian members are preventing it from being admitted as a ful member."

Many countries in la Francophonie are not francophone at all, like Ghana and Ukraine. Are you really that ignorant?

"In Rwanda you really can notice the gain of English influence. But why? Because the actual rulers of the countries come from Uganda and are English-speaking in fact. But Rwanda can hardly serve as proof of the decline of French. In Rwanda the native language Kinyaranda is spoken by every Rwandan citizen. Colonial languages like English or French only have technical impact on instutions but hardly on daily life. In fact Rwanda is cross road between the Francophone and Anglophone Africa. Therefore English AND French are official languages. Because of a better school system French is learnt by far more pupils and students than before 1994."

Don't talk about Rwanda when you don't even know how to write Kinyarwanda.

"It's good that you publish this internet page, but if you really want a serious debate and not a propaganda show, it would be reasonable to be more sophisticated. By the way what is deeper meaning of the so-called decline of French ... that Old Europe is collapsing while the USA are the on the bright side... 
Do you read the 'Wall Street Journal'?"

Yes, I read the Wall Street Journal, smartass. Do you have some command of French? Zeige mir bitte, wie gut Du Französisch und Deutsch kannst. Du schreibst, daß Du Deutscher bist. Zeig's mir doch!

Kian-Paul said...

Madame ou Monsieur j'enseigne littérature française, espagnole et portugaise dans une université allemande. Si vous êtes Français ou Française vous avez évidemment une haine de soi qui me semble bien pathologique. Mais ne craignez pas le français, c'est l'espagnol qui est en train d'envahir les États Unis de l'Amérique tout en supplantant l'anglais chéri. Croyez-moi que l'anglais soit bien menacé par les hispaniques qui l'apprennent souvent avec indifférence.
Keine Sprache lässt sich so gut so schlecht sprechen wie Englisch, das im Grunde eine Art Pidgin Französisch ist.

Anonymous said...

To find the data you have look in
http://www.swissinfo.ch/fre/dossiers/sommet_de_la_francophonie/Une_facon_d_echapper_au_mondialisme_americain.html?siteSect=23431&sid=9798934&cKey=1223534515000&ty=st