Hi!! I'd like to get an idea about the percentage of French spoken in Egypt - Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. (...) I live in the U.S. I just speak a little French and generally brush up on languages before I go to a country. So I was wondering if I should brush up on French or on Egyptian Arabic (I was hoping to be able to focus on French more since Egyptian Arabic is a bit difficult when one is used to Moroccan Arabic).Weird thing to ask. The guy clearly isn't a follower of this blog. Given the kind of answers he got Francophone propagandists have their work cut out for them:
I went on a Nile cruise organised by a French company. All the other people were French. The two Egyptian guides spoke French. But I can't say I noticed much French being spoken by the locals to potential French customers. My wife and I were called on to interpret.
Egypt is not Francophone. There are French language schools (subsidised by the French government) but you will hear no French spoken. (...) [T]he foreign language of choice is English (no surprise there).
You truly will find no occasion when you need to use French. (...) American English is fine.
The French government likes to promote its language and has a sort of Francophone area where it pretends French is spoken. Egypt is in that (...) But so are unlikely places like Ukraine. It just means they get a subsidy for French language schools.
French used to be the language spoken by the Egyptian elite. If you meet with Egyptian diplomats, intellectuals, artists... who are over 50-60, they are very likely to speak very good French.
Nowadays, upper class families send their sons to study English, for obvious career reasons. A good number still sends their daughters to study French, the idea being that they won't have a serious job anyway so it's good to have them learn an "artistic" language.
If you're in Egypt as a tourist, it's unlikely that you'll meet any of these francophones, except if you have a drink in some cafés in downtown. Everyday Egyptians do not speak French.
Work on your Egyptian Arabic, even if it's just taxicab or courtesy Arabic. French will do nothing for you here.
I approved of President Chirac's petulant and childish walkout because he did it for a good cause.Unfrench Frenchman: The "good cause" Chirac pretended to advocate in the name of France was cultural diversity, which his administration did so much to harm within France itself. Now back to Marcel:
Unfortunately, it is also a lost cause, and one which can no longer be revived, however many French presidents stalk out of a room on discovering a Frenchman addressing a gathering in English. Chirac's immediate frustration was about the decline of French as a language of inter-European communication.French has long lost its status on the international scene and in the world of diplomacy, but it could at least boast of supremacy within European institutions. No longer. English as a second language is now the most spoken, and the most taught, language in Europe. (...) It would be nice to think that foreigners were learning it because of its beauty, and as an avenue to its literature and culture.
Of course not. They want to speak English (...) because, as the Frenchman who so enraged Chirac [Ernest-Antoine Seillieres] explained, it is "the language of business". And, he could have added, of international trade, the internet, pop music, the tourist industry and Hollywood. French cannot compete. (...)
The cheap jibes that have accompanied Chirac's walkout missed the point. He wasn't just complaining about the role of French in Europe. There is a sub-text which is far more important: the fear of an irreversible decline of French on home soil. The more English-American is used in international or European institutions, the more it infiltrates and diminishes French. There is nothing new in the French incorporating foreign words and terms into their language. That has been going on for a long time, but has not, so far, significantly dented the integrity of the French tongue. What is more recent is the speed at which the language is changing, and, perhaps just as dangerous, the enthusiasm with which the young people of France, of all classes, are accepting, even sometimes inaugurating, the changes - not just business-speak but, to take one example, the language of the banlieue, much in evidence last November during the riots of the disadvantaged.
The French have already accommodated themselves to no longer being an important functional, everyday language - langue vehiculaire - on the world or European stage.
What they fear is that French will cease to be the primary language of culture. In defending his walkout, Chirac said, about the need for French to continue to be prominent: "It is not just national interest. It is in the interest of culture and the dialogue of cultures. You cannot build the world on one language, and hence one culture."
On this, he is right. If one language dominates too much, other languages in its immediate circle are threatened. At first, the damage may be limited - to the "language of business", as has happened to France in Europe; but if that then joins other linguistic influences, from American films to internet sites, it becomes more difficult to defend the integrity of the language under attack.
Once the language starts disintegrating, the very fabric of the country's culture - in its widest sense - is at risk.
France is particularly vulnerable. Fewer than 100 million speak French as a first language (compared to the 400 million who speak Spanish)...
...and the very fact that France is so prominent on world affairs means that it is constantly mixing with and coming under the malign influence of its linguistic enemies, the US and Britain. I'm not saying that the threat to France's (...) culture is imminent; but it is lurking.
Francophone Studies By Kamal Salhi.
A collection of studies of the experiences, portrayals and representations through the eyes of writers, dramatists, artists and policy makers based in French-speaking areas. The work covers:
-- the French influence in the Francophone world
-- cultural variation in Francophonia
-- interdisciplinary (aesthetics, language, culture & identity, history, etc..).
-- the 'cultural production' of Francophones.
-- relations between metropolitan France and its former colonies.
This is of interest to observers of the French language and seekers of information on culture, history and politics in francophone countries.
Francophone Studies: Discourse And Identity
By Kamal Salhi
Contributor Kamal Salhi
Published by Intellect Books, 2000
ISBN 1902454057, 9781902454054
Henry Samuel in Paris
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 02/09/2008
New York's Metropolitan Opera has turned down an opera by singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright because he wrote it in French and refused to translate the libretto into English.
The Met reaction turns the tables on the French-speaking world and its increasingly desperate official attempts to stem the global linguistic hegemony of English. "Presenting a new opera that is not in English at the Met when it could be in English is an immediate impediment to its potential success with audiences," Met manager Peter Gelb told the New York Times. "I hoped he would switch over, but he was determined to do it in French," he said.
Mr Wainwright, who is half American, half Canadian and raised in Francophone Montreal, has written most of the libretto for Prima Donna – about a day in the life of an ageing opera star in 1970s Paris.
Initially open to the idea of translating it, he said the French had become too "entrenched" with the music to change it. Mr Wainright will premiere his work, in French, in the UK next July at the Manchester International Festival.
The 35-year old pop star and gay icon has written songs for the soundtracks of Shrek, Moulin Rouge and Brokeback Mountain, and recently wrote three songs for Disney's animated Meet the Robinsons.
His 2007 album Release the Stars reached number two in the UK. Mr Wainwright, a recovering drug addict, is the son of Canadian singer Kate McGarrigle and American singer-actor Loudon Wainwright III, and often performs with his sister Martha on backup vocals.
An opera fanatic, some of his earlier songs have been described as "popera" given the lush orchestration and heart on-the-sleeve tenor voice. One track, Barcelona, features lyrics from the libretto of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Macbeth.
He was one of several pop and stage composers commissioned to write new works in English by the Met and Lincoln Center two years ago. News of the project's demise reached France yesterday, with Libération newspaper describing it as a "sad declaration for our national language".
The paper went on to pooh-pooh the Met's English-language adaptation of Mozart's the Magic Flute. It came, ironically, the day after France's education minister unveiled a plan to offer French secondary school pupils free intensive English language courses during school holidays in February and the summer. As 12 million French pupils began their new school year yesterday, Xavier Darcos said that it was a "handicap" to speak poor English. His admission would have been unthinkable under former president Jacques Chirac, who famously walked out of an EU summit two years ago when a fellow Frenchman spoke English. "While well-off families pay for study sessions abroad, I'm offering them to everyone right here," said Mr Darcos.
His initiative came amid reports that English has invaded French pop music as never before. This year's French entry for the Eurovision song contest was in English for the first time – to howls of disapproval from linguistic purists. Sébastien Tillier's song Divine, which includes smatterings of French, came 19th.
Meanwhile, les Francofolies, a summer rock festival in Western France created to promote French-speaking talent, welcomed 17 groups singing in English last month. The festival's director Gérard Pont said the festival had resigned itself to turning a blind eye to the language used by home-grown singers. "It's a shame for French-language songs, but loads of young French groups choose to sing in English and have a public," he told Le Monde yesterday. "If we decided to banish English from the Francofolies, it would be suicide"."
As French children filed back to school on September 2nd, Xavier Darcos, the education minister, announced that he was increasing English-language teaching in the curriculum. “I’ve had enough of hearing that the French do not learn English,” he said. “It’s a big disadvantage for international competition.” By the end of compulsory schooling, he promised, all pupils should be bilingual.
The French are embracing English in less high-minded ways too. When they entered a song in English at this year’s Eurovision song contest, it provoked wry amusement abroad, but indifference at home. For many young French musicians singing in English is now de rigueur. The gravelly voiced French crooners of the past have given way to bands like The Do, Hey Hey My My, or Cocoon, whose latest album is called “My Friends All Died in a Plane Crash”. “The children of globalisation are giving up writing in French,” declared Le Monde
France’s fashion press is another cross-dresser, writing of “Vive la fashion attitude” or “Le Hit des It Bags”. In a post-modern twist, teenagers are importing American slang via the heavily north African banlieues, where hip-hop flourishes and street dress is styled on the Bronx.
In the Guardian:
Darcos said that the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had given him a mission to "make France a bilingual nation"
..."Ten years ago people said France's education system was the best in the world and didn't need to be changed at all," he said.
"Now there is a realisation something has to be done because France is falling behind other countries."
Now his successor wants pupils at French lycées — secondary schools — to enrol on three weeks of free "intensive" courses in English during the February and summer holidays.
In addition, all collèges (middle schools) and lycées with low academic achievements have been instructed to offer pupils two hours of extra "support lessons" a week including English. The government plans to encourage what it calls "e-learning" by offering English courses on the internet.
The extra-curricular courses are voluntary and will start in 2010.
Lessons will concentrate on oral English, a fundamental change as most of France's official examinations are written tests.
It is not the first time a French government has tried to close the language gap. In 1989 the education minister, Lionel Jospin, made mandatory two to three hours of English a week for nine- to 11-year-olds. Later legislation introduced 15 minutes a day of English for pupils from six years old.
In 2004 a cross-party parliamentary commission recommended — without success — that English should be mandatory in all schools and afforded the same importance as the French language and mathematics.
Charbonnier believes the new measures stand a better chance of success than previous reforms.
"The world has changed and France has realised it has to change with it. More and more students are spending a year studying in an anglophone country. They realise it looks good on their CV that they can speak English," he said.
In the Charleston Daily Mail, Monday September 8, 2008:
The French government, under monarchs, an empire and five republics, has dutifully protected the French language - and protected it out of existence as a language that is used outside to conduct business.
Under Sarkozy, the French government seems determined to undo some of that damage by speaking up.
French students currently receive 700 hours of compulsory English education over the course of their school careers. But France "is not seeing an adequate return on this investment," Darcos conceded. Expanding on the proposals, he expressed his desire for all French students to be bilingual by the time they finish compulsory education, stressing in particular the need to be able to speak excellent English.
From the desk of Unfrench Frenchman:
Most readers of this blog are probably used to the wild statistical claims made by French speakers regarding the global importance of French. 120 million native speakers, 2 or 300 million secondary speakers and 500 million who have been exposed to the language, we hear. They also rarely miss a chance to tell us how the vibrant demographics of West Africa means an absolute increase in global Francophone numbers. How can one speak of a decline of the French language when absolute numbers of French speakers are exploding in Africa, they ask.
Let us forget the exposed-to-the-language category as it is too meaningless to even discuss. Now 120 million native speakers of French worldwide? Well, according to what source one turns to, numbers vary considerably. This is because of the sheer difficulty of making such counts. In France, native speakers of French are concentrated in the mainland and constitute approximately 80-90% of the mainland population, an estimate which can hardly be more accurate because of the many dialects and regional languages and the numerous first, second and third-generation immigrants. Many of those immigrants may use French as their main language, but it is not the first tongue they learned, so that their French, albeit fluent, distinctly lacks native quality in pronunciation, accent, grammar and vocabulary. 80 to 90% of mainland French amounts to a population of 48 to 54 million. French overseas territories comprise a population of native speakers that is no more than one million, the rest of the six million residing in those territories calling local or foreign tongues their native languages. Suisse Romande and the rest of Switzerland ar home to about one million French speakers, Quebec is 80% native French speaking, which amounts to 5.5 m, while up to a million native Francophones are to be found in the rest of Canada. Belgium is home to 4 million at the utmost, the US to 2. Smaller communities of native French speakers are also found in other countries. They cannot comprise more than 3 million, considering that the number of French nationals living outside of France is less than 2 million according to official French sources, ("a population of almost two million, which is the number of French citizens residing outside our frontiers."). Total: 71.5 to 77.5. A far cry from the numbers usually claimed by the priests and fanatics of la Francophonie!
Needless to say, secondary speakers of any language will be still more difficult to count, and most countries that have French as an official language conveniently happen to be among the poorest, unhappiest places on earth, ones fraught with war and hunger and generally devoid of any infrastructure. Government presence in those countries is far less felt than in the first world and limits itself to raw exploitation and repression. The State generally has no means or intention of providing its people with decent education in any language, let alone of conducting language censuses within its borders.
This is why numbers of French speakers cannot be accurately estimated in most former African colonies of France, which makes it equally impossible to extrapolate from the total population growth experienced by those countries an overall increase of French speakers.
Africa is home to very few native speakers of French, and those native speakers are limited to a small urban population of settlers from France and Belgium that is steadily diminishing because of low total fertility rates and repatriations forced by growing social strife in countries such as the Ivory Coast. The local African population in the so-called pré carré Africain is very loyal to native idioms and has no social incentive for relinquishing their use as many linguas francas other than French compete for speakers (think of Yoruba, Peul, Arabic, Wolof, Bantu to name but a few), nor would there be any advantage for them in adopting French as their everyday language of choice when French control over their economies, by hampering the development of the labor market, has made it near impossible to obtain the kind of employment that requires the knowledge of European languages. Except in Abidjan, French in West Africa is something you learn at school, if you ever went there, and seldom use afterwards.
French in Africa is nothing but a secondary language, a non-native language that, in the everyday life of most Africans, is used as a third or fourth-choice lingua franca, whenever Haoussa, Peul, Lingala or Arabic won't do. Its status is therefore fragile. Is it endangered?
The dynamism of a lingua franca with such a limited base of native speakers as is French is not so much dependent on absolute numbers of speakers as it is on its geographical spread.French is only useful as a lingua franca inasmuch as it is spoken on a wide territory. If French can be said in decline as an international language, it is because it is used as such in ever fewer countries. French used to have currency among indigenous populations of Laos, Vietnam, Kamputchea, Lebanon, Rwanda. In all of these countries, French now is hardly more of a lingua franca than would be German or Dutch, and much less of one than English is. All of these nations have been lost for la Francophonie in the past decades while no new country has been gained.
Steep losses for the proud French.
But the hemorrhage is not about to stop. As France becomes unable to afford the military cost of maintaining its African empire, countries like Tchad or Centrafrique are bound to fall sooner or later and go the way of Zaire or Rwanda.
France cannot even rely on more stable parts of West Africa to carry on the colonial heritage. That region has no love lost for France or the culture she peddles. West African nations will not be the cultural youth elixir that Wallonia, France, Suisse Romande and Quebec, all declining, ageing places, desperately need: sick and tired of being the serfs of France, the populations of France's former African colonies are turning more and more to the non-French speaking world for investors or emigration. Thus the Democratic Republic of Congo invites Chinese investors to exploit its riches while young men and women from Senegal or Morocco learn English to move to America and huge numbers of Beninese, Cameroonian, Nigerien and Malian expatriates seek work in Lagos, the English speaking capital of Nigeria.
The French cultural empire is crumbling away in its last stronghold. France is about to lose the last bastion of international Francophonie to the rest of world.
France's role in the worst genocide since World War II appears to go wider and deeper than anyone expected
Sometimes the dead bite back. Rwanda, the tiny land-locked African country smaller than Switzerland, has accused France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, of complicity in the killing of a million men, women and children in the genocide of 1994. The accusation was made in a report prepared over two years by Rwanda's public prosecutor, Jean Mucyo, who took testimony from 166 witnesses.
France has responded by condemning the report, presented at the end of last month, as "intolerable" - a charge duly echoed in its national press. Yet the French government has made no move to rebut the charges, [emphasis ours, Unfrench]while few in the media have made any effort to examine the testimony in any depth.
The fact is Rwanda's indictment has sent a shockwave through the Elysee Palace. The names of those implicated read like a Who's Who of the political establishment: 33 members of former President Francois Mitterrand's government and military, including ex-prime ministers Dominique de Villepin, Edouard Balladur and Alain Juppe, as well as generals and colonels.
The historical roots of the Rwandan atrocity go back to colonial times. After Rwanda gained independence from Belgium in 1962, the Hutu majority took over power. They blamed the minority Tutsis, who the Belgians had favoured with positions of influence, for the country's problems. Many Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries. During the late 1980s, Tutsi refugees in Uganda - including Rwanda's current President Paul Kagame - formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), an English-speaking armed group that plotted to overthrow Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana and restore Tutsi influence.
Mucyo's report emphasises the close links between the French army and the forces of Habyarimana, a Francophone. When the RPF launched an assault on Habyarimana's regime in October 1990, some French military advisors put on Rwandan uniforms. Documents from the French DefenceMinistry show that it authorised the export of Â£80m worth of munitions to Habyarimana.
So far so tawdry - but nothing that would surprise students of France's murky dealings in post-colonial Africa.
But the spread of weapons wasn't confined to the Rwandan military, according to Mucyo's report. It quotes a diplomatic message in 1992 from Colonel Bernard Cussac, the French military attache in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, concerning the distribution of arms to civilians. Also, it is claimed French instructors trained civilians to kill - with firearms, sharp weapons and by hand. This training was to be put to use in the genocide.
Mucyo's report says the French instructors could hardly have failed to anticipate what was going to happen. The head of the UN's military force in Rwanda at the time, Canada's General Romeo Dallaire, is quoted as saying that the French soldiers "were perfectly aware that something was being planned that could lead to large-scale slaughter". Diplomatic telegrams back this up.
French soldiers who fought alongside Habyarimana's Hutu army knew that the enemy was identified as ethnically Tutsi - but at no point did France urge restraint on its allies.
And so, when Habyarimana's plane was shot down in mysterious circumstances on April 6, 1994, the simmering ethnic tensions erupted. Approximately one million people, mainly Tutsis, were killed in the next 100 days.
Three weeks after the genocide began, with tens of thousands already butchered, two Rwandan government envoys, Jerome Bicamumpaka and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, to whom Belgium and the US had refused visas, were received by President Mitterand and Prime Minister Balladur. France paid for and sent arms to the Hutu forces according to credible witnesses. A Boeing 707 carrying weapons landed five times at Goma in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo during the genocide.
But the most shocking allegations in Mucyo's report concern Operation Turquoise, a French initiative authorised by the UN, under which a security zone was established for those fleeing the Rwandan conflict. According to statements taken by Mucyo, French soldiers handed over Tutsi captives to the Interahamwe, an unofficial Hutu militia group, who killed them. Other witnesses fleeing the conflict, some of whom were 12 at the time, accused French peacekeepers of rape.
Although France deems the report "unacceptable" it has so far failed to provide any evidence to rebut it. Critics say the Mucyo report is politicised grandstanding - revenge for claims made in November 2006 when a French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, accused Kagame and his army of triggering the genocide by shooting down Habyarimana's plane.
It is true that Mucyo's report is partially in response to Judge Bruguiere's accusation, but the testimonies of those collected in public in Kigali - in full view of international news agencies, including Westerners, victims and perpetrators of the massacre - is hard to refute.
To add insult to injury, Rwanda has declared its courts have universal jurisdiction over crimes of genocide on its soil. So will we be seeing French politicians being transferred to the Hague, awaiting trial in central Africa? Unlikely, but Mucyo has prompted one influential French non-governmental organisation, Survie (Survival), to demand another official inquiry into France's role in the horrors of 1994.
It is worth noting that many Tutsi refugees said that the French restrained the Interahamwe militia under their control and thus saved thousands of lives. But it will do little to obscure the fact that France's role in the worst genocide since World War II appears to go wider and deeper than anyone expected.
Her third book about Rwanda will concentrate on the role of France. She has a leaked memo confirming that the French supplied members of the interim government responsible for the massacres with satellite phones to direct operations across the country. "They hand-delivered them by courier," she says. "In the run-up to the massacres, the French had 47 senior officers living with and training the genocidaires. French policy is about influence and money and Francophonie," says Melvern. "They are very professional at manipulating the UN system. By controlling Boutros Boutros-Ghali, their candidate for UN secretary general, they determined what information about the Rwandan genocide reached the outside world."
10 years ago, on April 6 1994, Rwanda's President Habyarimana was killed when two missiles brought down his presidential jet as it approached Kigali airport. The speed and organisation with which the mass killing started after this assassination suggest that it was a deliberate signal, but, though the prime suspects remain Hutu Power extremists, no inquiry has ever been held into who was responsible.
A French judge has been investigating the crash on behalf of the families of the three French crew who also died in it. His report has not been released, but extracts leaked to the newspaper Le Monde suggest that it is seriously flawed. Eyewitness accounts of the crash, for example, directly contradict the judge's assertion that although two missiles were fired, only one hit the plane.
The paper also claims that the judge found the Tutsi leader Paul Kagame responsible for the assassination, despite the fact that the killing was used by Hutu extremists to justify the genocide.
We may never know the truth. France was Rwanda's one great ally and the French must have known of the activities of the extremists - certainly in the army. France provided arms, soldiers, technical advice and expertise to the Rwandan military, even embedding French officers to work side by side with officers and known extremists. Just two weeks before the genocide began, French officers were still serving in the very units that were responsible for carrying out the elimination of the entire political opposition, touring Kigali at dawn with prepared lists. And they continued to intervene in support of the extremists during and, crucially, after the April 1994 massacres.
” Again I experienced the same thing when we went to Spain last year—even if you’re right over the border, there is no French spoken. They speak better English than they do French. It’s probably a matter of choice too, in a rebellious way.
10/02/2008, at Denis au Quebec:
Triste constat, qui n'est sans doute que l'un des nombreux exemples de ce déclin de la présence française au Québec.
La situation s'est nettement détériorée depuis 2003, après l'élection du gouvernement Charest. Ce gouvernement élu par les anglophones (il n'a pas l'appui de 20 % des francophones et parmi les francophones qui votent pour lui, une grande partie parlent anglais la plupart du temps : j'étais au restaurant, il y a quelques jours : un homme et une femme tous deux francophones, ont parlé anglais toute la soirée) a donné un signal très fort aux anglophones : nous allons relâcher les contrôles linguistiques.
On sait très bien que ce gouvernement n'aime pas les questions de langue, qui sont plutôt des sujets qui font augmenter la popularité du Parti Québécois associé à la défense de la langue et de la culture francophones. Ce gouvernement à nommé à la présidence de l'Office québécois de la langue française, organisme de défense de la langue, une ancienne attachée politique libérale dont la mission semble être de laisser entendre que tout va bien au Québec, que le français s'y porte très bien. Or on apprend récemment que cette militante politique, au lieu de jouer honnêtement son rôle de présidente de l'organisme de surveillance, joue plutôt le rôle de militante libérale en cachant des études alarmantes qui démontrent le déclin du français au Québec. Elle ne travaille donc pas pour les Québécois mais pour son chef John James Charest, premier ministre du Québec (!!!), qui ne veut rien entendre de la question de la défense du français...
Je crois que ça va barder un peu au cours des prochains mois. Les magouilles et les jeu de cache-cache de ce gouvernement, de la pauvre tête de l... de ministre Saint-Pierre, ne berneront plus les Québécois, qui vont exiger des mesures plus énergiques pour assurer la vitalité du français au Québec. Les conseils de John Parisella en matière de communications stratégiques ne suffiront plus à ce gouvernement pour séduire les Québécois ; il devra prendre des décisions au lieu de se laisser porter par la vague comme il le fait depuis 2003.
Tu as raison de préciser que ce ne sont pas les anglophones de souche qui représentent le problème ; eux, ils ont compris depuis 1977 (et ceux qui n'ont pas voulu comprendre sont partis entre 1977 et 1980). Bien entendu, ils ne protesteront pas si on donne plus de place à l'anglais en matière d'affichage et de langue de travail).
Les vrais récalcitrants, ce sont tous les « Ginos » (de toutes origines) qui arrivent non pas au Québec mais au Canada, qui n'ont qu'une idée en tête : s'enrichir et pouvoir partir du jour au lendemain faire fortune où bon leur semble. Ces personnes n'ont absolument aucun intérêt à apprendre le français et ils se fichent carrément de la langue et de la culture au Québec.
La plupart du temps, ces personnes ne parlent que très mal l'anglais et ils vous imposent la conversation dans un anglais que tout le monde a du mal à comprendre, à commencer par eux-même.
Et que fait notre bon gouvernement Charest pour tenter de corriger la situation ? Il nomme au Conseil de la langue française la présidente du plus important lobby de la communauté anglophone qui a toujours lutté contre l'application de la Loi 101 !
The question that the author of the above text does not address is why a number of Francophones voted for Charest, making his election possible. The obvious answer is that Quebec's language policies have harmed its economy and hampered its growth, which spells disaster even for French speakers in the long run.
The Quebecers have no option other than to let Quebec become American and its tongue be English.
On the Bloc Quebecois blog, similar views are found on the political situation in Quebec:
Langue française : désertion du gouvernement Charest
L’OQLF a déposé hier son bilan quinquennal de la situation de la langue au Québec, bilan qui ne pose pas de véritable diagnostic sur l’état du français au Québec, sinon qu’il met en lumière le déclin du français.
Sauf que la réalité est que le gouvernement Charest a pour sa part déposé les armes dans la défense du français, en prenant soin de cacher son drapeau blanc à la population et de ligoter les observateurs.
Cela dit, voici quelques faits saillants du bilan de l’OQLF sur l’évolution de la situation du français au Québec :
-Un recul du français au Québec
-La population de langue française se renouvelle moins
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."
Amongst the largest falls in entries in 2008 were French, down by 14,778 to 201,940, or 6.8 per cent. Entries for German were down by 4,366 to 76,695, or 5.4 per cent.
GCSE blow for languages
However, entries in Spanish continued to rise, by 3,114 to 67,092 , up 4.9 per cent.
In 2004, pupils were allowed to drop languages in Key Stage 4, the two GCSE years. Since then the numbers taking a GCSE qualification have fallen from about three quarters of the age group to half, with the biggest decline being in state comprehensives.
Thursday January 10 2008:
In the 2007 GCSEs, German entries were down by 10.2% to 81,061 and French down by 8.2% to 216,718. Spanish entries rose by 3% to 63,978 and other modern languages rose 5.5% to 30,794.
August 26, 2005:
Formally, the obligation to study a foreign language at GCSE ended only last September. But the Government turned a blind eye as schools took advantage of the flexible rules allowing them to make languages optional a year early. The results have been devastating, with French down by 46,000, or 14.4 per cent, compared with 2004 while entries for German have fallen by nearly 17,000 or 13.7 per cent.
Thursday August 22 2002:
Languages appeared to be the biggest loser, however, as entries for German fell by 6.6% (to 126,216 from 135,133 last year) and French down by 2.5% (to 338,468 from 347,007 last year). The only modern language to buck this trend was Spanish, where entries rose for the third year running - to 57,983 from 54,326 last year, but still represented only one per cent of all GCSE entries. This year French entries accounted for 6% of the total - down from 6.2% last year - while German also slipped by 0.2% to 2.2% from 2.4% last time. Even in the GCSE short courses, entries were down in French and German though slightly up in Spanish.
2 years of hs french down the drain — 2 years ago
You can probably relate to not picking up anything from your high school foreign language classes. I was that way but I also did a little self study after hs.
I was self-teaching myself on and off but I stopped a while back from the lack of usage and boredom of just talking to myself.
Here’s to starting with the spanish lessons. Everyone speaks Spanish in California anyway. Haha.
May 26, 2006, 05:12AM PDT
OMG, I HATE FRENCH! lol, but we have to learn it here in Canada.....=/
Je parle un petit peu du francais! <-- I think it's right lol. My french is SOOO AWFUL!
heh I live in Qc, hence I've been in a french school now, for lets see... 13... this is my 14th year :o (bilingual school this yr :P) alors tu vois, moi tu peux me parler quand tu veux en français et pour les devoirs ça va aussi :P :)
This user says his father's a French speaker, that he himself has been at a French language school for 13 years. While his English is native, his French is completely wrong and un-French:
For my english... well my mom is english... so lets say half my family is english and the other half is french :P so I grew up with both... I think my written english is worst, tho I do have a small accent in english :PSo much for language policies being a success in Quebec.
cool!! es tu deja venu en france?
Wow, four years of French down the drain. Or it's hiding somewhere deep in the attic of my mind and has stubbornly decided not to show itself. Either way, I don't understand a single word of French! It's terrible. And now, unlike Spain, everyone just reverts to English and I don't learn anything. Mon dieu.
haha. I took 2 years of french. But...i dont remember a lot. :( Umm...hmm..lets see here. Je m'appelle Amanda. 16 ans. (?? i forgot how to say 'i am 16 years old'). J'aime ecoute de la musique. (?) umm...crap. I forgot a lot of stuff. :-\ 2 years of french down the drain.
yeah, but Rowling's are much too obvious to the viewers she's targeting. Of course, Lupin also means rabbit in french but otherwise it's all too obvious. I would personally never think of looking into the dutch meaning of the word Vader.
EDIT: Nevermind, Lapin is Rabbit, but Lupe is Wolf. There goes ten years of french down the drain ^^;
This Project was to be called "Castelas" which I'm guessing is French for castles. Two years of high school French down the drain.Indeed
I studied French. Je parle on peu francais. And that's about all I remember. Ca Va?
The point is, people aren't going to strive to learn a declining a language that they don't have a reason to use. All the French classes of the world won't make a difference.
Le Soleil (Québec)
Le mercredi 05 mars 2008:
Dans son bilan, l'OQLF constate, dans l'ensemble, que la proportion de Québécois de langue maternelle française est passée de 82 pour cent, en 1991, à 81,4 pour cent, en 2001, pour enregistrer ensuite «un recul significatif» de deux points en 2006, à 79,6 pour cent.
Dans l'île de Montréal, une diminution de 3,4 pour cent a aussi été notée, de 2001 à 2006. Ainsi, le nombre de personnes dont la mère parlait français était de 49,8 pour cent pour cent lors de cette dernière année.
«De façon générale, les derniers recensements montrent un vieillissement généralisé de la population, cependant cette tendance est plus marquée chez les personnes de langue maternelle française», a dit Mme Boucher.
Le document synthèse de l’OQLF souligne que la population de langue maternelle française connaît un vieillissement plus marqué et se renouvelle moins. Son âge médian a augmenté de 4,5 ans entre 1991 et 2001, pour passer à 38,6 ans et ainsi dépasser celui des groupes linguistiques anglophone et allophone.
Le document constate une «régression» du taux de réussite des jeunes Québécois aux épreuves de français du secondaire et du collégial. Au collégial, la baisse générale d’effectifs a engendré une chute des inscriptions dans les cégeps français, alors que depuis 2000, elles sont légèrement à la hausse dans les cégeps anglais. Dans les universités, les étudiants de langue maternelle française sont proportionnellement «sous-représentés».
These facts are evidence enough that young people are turning their back on French and that non-French speaking students, and probably even French speaking ones, after being forced by Quebec's stringent language laws to attend French elementary and high schools, switch to English-language education as soon as they can, which normally means when they reach age 17, at post-secondary level (Cegeps). This says something about the desire of Quebec's pupils to learn English at native level. So-called allophone students are not ready to give up their mother tongues in order to become native speakers of French. A smattering of French is enough for their needs even in Quebec. When it comes to English, however, only proficiency will do. Quebec's language policies have failed for all their coerciveness. Quebec's language totalitarians have been hoping that third-world immigrants could be forced into saving the French language in Quebec from the sterility of its speakers, or that native English speakers could be coerced and discriminated against into adopting French as a main language, but it is now clear that nothing can prevent the French language from slipping into obscurity in Canada in the long run.
the last surviving signatory of the Treaty of Rome,
March 23, 2007 (AFP)
We only need a language that will help us move with the rest of the world and not one that will enslave us. We need to have our minds decolonised! ... Between English and French (which rank first and second respectively in the UN) the big question should be; which of these is more enslaving and which will keep us in tandem with the rest of the world? The tide, in my opinion, seems to be blowing against French.
lecturer at Kigali Institute of Education
KIGALI, Rwanda January 26, 2007 (The New Times/allAfrica.com)
As a French-speaking African I am always mildly amused when I hear France clamoring for "cultural diversity," which to all intents and purposes amounts to mobilizing the world in a fight against Anglo-Saxon cultural and economic "imperialism."
The French seem to suffer from amnesia. France did all it could to suppress native languages in its colonies. I have personally suffered from this. And to this day, France tries to perpetuate the French language in its former colonies while attempting to enlist foot soldiers in the French war on Anglo-Saxon pre- eminence.
Still, and strangely enough, France seems to find it natural that its former colonies should join in the fight to "defend" its language against English.
We connect with each other based on our similarities, and we enrich each other based on our differences
Now, the question is: Why can't the French stop living in the past, come to terms with the reality of globalization and start learning English — and Chinese — like everybody else?
Wed, 2008-03-05 19:26.
French language losing ground in Montreal
QUEBEC CITY - Less than half of Montrealers consider French their mother-tongue, according to a long-awaited report released by the province's language watchdog.
In a study painting a portrait of the French language in the province between 2001 and 2006, the Office Quebecoise de la Langue Francaise (OLQF) says the number of Quebecers who consider French their mother tongue has also gone down from 82% to 80%.
The President of the OLQF, France Boucher says it can be blamed on the fact French-speaking Quebecers are getting older.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5305484.stm Belgian town bans school French Belgium's regions enjoy a wide degree of educational autonomy The mayor of Merchtem in Belgium has defended a ban on speaking French in the town's schools. Eddie de Block said the ban, introduced on Monday, would help all non-Dutch speakers integrate in the Flemish town near Brussels. Mr de Block insisted that the new measure did not violate human rights. Belgium has witnessed a number of language rows between the Dutch-speaking Flemish population and the French-speaking Walloons. 'No problem' "What we want is to teach children to speak Dutch," Mr de Block told the BBC News website. "It's not a great problem," he said, adding that only about 8% of some 1,400 pupils in the town's four schools spoke languages other than Dutch. Street signs are sometimes defaced in the language dispute The ban means parents and children will only be allowed to speak Dutch on the school premises. Anyone caught speaking anything other than Dutch will be reprimanded by teachers. Mr de Block said two experts with degrees in teaching Dutch as a foreign language had been employed to help non-Dutch speaking pupils. However, parents will be allowed to use interpreters if they have communication problems during parents' meetings. The mayor dismissed suggestions that the ban violated human rights, saying the schools were being funded by Flemish communities who were responsible for safeguarding the Dutch language.On March this year, a Brussels-based French speaker blogged the following rant:
The decision by the mayor of Merchtem has since expanded to other boroughs bordering Brussels where up to 80% of inhabitants are French-speakers. Even worse, the prohibition of the use of the French language now apply "around the school" ("omgeving"). Of course, the Flemish authorities do not specify what they mean by "around the school", so that the use of the French or English language is de facto banned on the entire territory. Numerous French-speaking children, perfectly bilingual, indicate that they are subject to pressure and threats from Flemish-speaking teachers so they do not dare to speak French or English between them outside the school. Some were indeed punished because they spoke French or English between them on the public highway. The prohibition of the French language among individuals is illegal.Yet this is the reality lived by French-speaking children in the heart of Europe.The above post doesn't link to any evidence of other Flemish communities around Brussels trying to ban the use of French in and around schools, so that statement needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially given the French speakers' propensity to brandish the victim card in Belgium. Plus, there are no communities in Flanders with 80% French speakers, these statements are to be put in the same categories with the many other lies French speakers keep spreading about the respective importance of French and Flemish in Belgium. In this case, they lie about the importance of French in the communities located in Flanders between Brussels and the Wallonia border because they claim these communities for Wallonia in case of a Flemish secession. The communities in question are in Flanders because they were found Flemish speaking in the 1960s when the federal system was set up. It is highly improbable that French speakers should have become as numerous as the Francophone media claim they now are: the ethnic French have too dire TFRs in Belgium and the majority of French speakers in Brussels itself is a short one. Moroccans and other immigrants generally learn French in Wallonia and Dutch in Flanders. In Brussels, many immigrants speak both Dutch and French.
The ongoing anglification of Eymet, Dordogne, France in the press:
The Express: “HOW hundreds of ex-pats, fed up with obnoxious youths, incompetent councils and politically correct nonsense, have turned a tiny village into a very British idyll.”
It is home to ex-pats buying cans of Heinz tomato soup (American), Weetabix (founded by South Africans) and Tetley Tea (produced Indian tea giant Tata) from Kevin Walls’ corner shop, the Magasin Anglais. There are tea rooms, market stalls selling stilton cheese and British newspapers. There are white men in cricket whites playing cricket. Of the town’s 2,600 residents, around one third were born in the UK.
...During the past 25 years Eymet has witnessed a British invasion. Here, it seems, one can manage without so much as an “excusez-moi” or a “parlez-vous Anglais?” If you want to live in France but don’t speak French it seems this is the place to be.
“Most of them don’t speak French,” says Nathalie, a French woman working in a computer shop called MCD Informatique (owned by a Brit) who says 80 per cent of the clientele are British.
Eymet Cricket Club celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The team began playing on the town’s football pitch, with a temporary square created from matting, but the local authorities offered it a ground with stand and nets.
In the Telegraph: Eymet lies in the heart of the south-western French department mockingly dubbed Dordogneshire, with a total British population of up to 10,000.
The first wave of Britons settled in the town in the 1960s, and today it has its own cricket club, a Franco-British choir and even a corner shop selling supplies of British pork sausages and Marmite.
There are now an estimated 800 British-run businesses in Dordogne, and 25 of the 300 children in Eymet's primary school are British.
The Guardian: "A report on a popular French TV documentary programme showed one British couple who had still not managed to master the basics of the language after living in France for more than a year...
There are said to be 20,000 Brits altogether living in the Dordogne with the number increasing to a staggering 100,000 during the summer months...While some businesses argue British homeowners and tourists bring money into the area others fear for local culture as the markets and shops cater for the foreign clientele.
...He said older French people worried that the ancient local language, Occitan, had been had been replaced by English, and rising property prices had thwarted local families. "But I tell them, the English have done excellent work restoring our old houses and these houses will stay here after they go," Peyronnet said.
On his candidate list is Julian Urrutia from Ascot, the director of a stone-flooring business, who has a Basque grandfather. Like the others, he speaks French and considers himself "Eymetois". He said
He flinched when, while out canvassing, an elderly British man opened his door and shouted: "What? You're speaking French, I don't know what you're talking about."
Sue Collard, lecturer in French at the University of Sussex's European Institute, is researching the phenomenon of British local councillors in France. She is also standing in her village in Normandy. She said the number of British people running did not necessarily reflect integration into French society. "When you ask people, you find hardly any of them watch French TV. Most read the English papers."
LivingFrance.com: In the town’s arcaded Place Gambetta, you’ve got Karen and Lisa at home furnishings store Kismet, just up from Stephane and Anya at Le Gambetta bar and then there’s Dean at MCD Informatique on the corner. English books and wrapping paper come from the newly opened Frederic’s Bookshop just up the road, Farrow & Ball paint or oak flooring comes from Michele at Fabrica Design and Tony Martin’s Eymet Ordinateurs can supply you with reconditioned PCs and satellite dishes. You could do your entire week’s shopping and never have to speak a word of French...The success of the place is that the English are happy living there ...’ They may not speak the language very well, they may prefer shopping in the English grocers and eating sliced bread, but they are abroad and have transformed Eymet into a vibrant and charismatic place to live.
Eymet [is] a village of 2,600 inhabitants with such a high population of English speakers that one was recently elected as a town councillor.
Says a local French teacher: "We make good use of them as English teachers."
Back in Eymet, the school's director is announcing the opening of a new class, thanks in part to the number of foreign pupils... "Fifteen per cent of the children in this school are English."
There is even an Eymet blog by a British expat, which is as you would have guessed, in ENGLISH.
La France vit un moment difficile de son identité historique. Elle joue un rôle plus modeste et provincial dans l'économie mondiale, dans la politique mondiale, dans la culture mondiale. Le déclin de la langue française comme langue internationale ne peut que poser des problèmes d'identité aux Français. Il est possible aussi que la centralisation du système éducatif français contribue au malaise. Le grand orgueil des ministres de l'Education de la IIIe République était de savoir ce qui était enseigné à un moment donné dans n'importe quelle classe. Ça n'est plus possible aujourd'hui.
Even global leftist icons like Hobsbawm have come to recognize that France and its language are in decline.
The five-strong Francophonie team noted with satisfaction the peaceful conduct of the three-day exercise that ended on Sunday with incumbent President James Michel winning a narrow victory over a strong opposition challenge.
At the same time, they expressed concern that French — one of three official languages in the far-flung Indian Ocean archipelago, along with English and Creole — had been under-utilized in both the campaign and polling.
Among their recommendations, the Francophonie observers urged "a more systematic usage of French in the electoral process, in keeping with provisions in the constitution that guarantee the equality of the three languages."
The call was made in a statement by the representatives of the 53-nation bloc that gave a positive assessment of the polls but did not elaborate on how much French was used in the campaign or by electoral officials.
However, anecdotal evidence suggested that most speeches at rallies, printed campaign posters and election material were almost entirely in Creole with a smattering of English, the two most widely spoken languages on the 115-island chain.
Seychelles was a French colony until 1814 when it came under the control of Britain, becoming a crown colony in 1903 before winning independence in 1976.
Nearly all of its 85,000 inhabitants speak Creole, or pidgin French, and English, although many place names and surnames retain French characteristics even though its capital is named after a former British monarch.
the [French] language is losing its dominance in the European Union.
EU statistics published last summer show only 7 percent of the organization's staff from the 10 new members speak French, while 62 percent say they speak English... Twenty years ago, 58 percent of EU documents were written initially in French. That proportion has dropped to 20 percent.
Whether France likes it or not, the dominance of the English language has grown and continues to grow in the European Union, bolstered notably by the arrival of 10 mostly ex-communist countries to the bloc in 2004.
When a Latvian needs to speak to a Lithuanian, when a Pole wants to strike up a conversation with an Estonian, the tongue they will most likely choose is that of Shakespeare, not of Moliere.
"French is very useful and sometimes necessary in Brussels. But English is essential. There are many groups that work only in English," said Zbigniew Gniatkowski, a spokesman for the Polish embassy to the European Union.
Back home in Poland, "everyone wants to learn English" especially because of its association with music, US culture and the internet, added 33-year-old Gniatkowski, who arrived in Brussels shortly after his country entered the EU.
The arrival of 10 newcomers in the union just under two years ago is widely seen as having diluted Paris' clout and speeded up a shift in the bloc's centre of balance which had already been underway or some years.... French speakers regularly complain that official documents increasingly appear in English and only later in French — even though English, French and German are the working languages of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.
"Previously there was more French used in official communication in Brussels. Now all the time I have the feeling that this is diminishing," said Peteris Ustubs, a foreign affairs adviser to Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis.
Illustrating the trend, statistics show that in 1997, 40 percent of European Commission documents were first drawn up in French before being translated, and 45 percent were originally drafted in English.
By 2004, just 26 percent of documents were in French in their first form, and 62 percent in English.
downloading = téléchargement à partir d'un autre ordinateur
uploading = téléchargement vers un autre ordinateur
Paid for by the French taxpayer's money, but don't expect the French to realize the problem, theirs are first-class national blinkers, courtesy of a totalitarian school system the Anglo-American leftists are so fond of.
I just posted these words of comment:
So let me get this straight: some Arab immigrant, Malik Berkane, has launched a frivolous law suit to ban a Japanese official from stating his opinion of the French language in his own country? Good luck. I don't think the Japanese will go for that.
It is time we French speakers understand that la Francophonie doesn't rule the world, and just because the French don't believe in free speech doesn't mean that the rest of us is going to fall in line and say just what the French want them to.
The French language is in decline anyway. Just check this very informative website
Now let us see if "Pravda" will delete that.
Le jour 496 de Sarko
Regular readers know that two recurring topics at Pave are the decline of the French language and the polyglot-muddle Francophonie.* Now there is a blog specializing in these two themes, The Worldwide Decline Of French Blog.
This is the only Web log to specialize in the declining use of the French language, both globally and within France itself. I use recent and less recent Web articles, blog entries and books written in French, English, German and other languages to document the failure of costly Francophonie policies in- and outside France.
Pave invites you to pay TWDOFB a visit.
As always, Enough! Pave, the worthy successor to the great, but defunct blog Pave France, the British need More Parking, provides us with plenty of useful links. Click them all and enjoy the Frog bash!
Here are a few of those liberated francophones:
Angelique Kidjo was born in Benin, West Africa.(...) her (...) husband, Jean Hebrail, (...) collaborates with her. They now live in New York and Paris.(...) Angelique speaks and sings in several languages, including Fon, Yoruba, Mina, French, and English.A most heart-warming trend and a crushing blow to French pretensions: while those artists increasingly use English as a medium, African anglophone singers still almost never sing in French!
Native of Ivory Coast, Angelo Dogba fuses Hip-Hop, Dance Hall, Jungle and traditional African ingredients in Abidjan-Paris-New York.
Hundreds of hard edged performances across Africa, Europe and the US.
Award received in New-York from "African Eye" in 2002
Depipson is an African born artist from the North West Province of Cameroon. Songs are written in 9 different languages:English, French, Spanish,Pinyin,Douala,Pidgin English or creole, Lingala,Nkambe,Bali and more
Fojebais a singer songwriter currently settled in Toronto, Born in Cameroon,Fojeba migrated to Europe in 1996,and used to live in The Hague ,The Netherlands for about 7 years. Lyrics in Bamileke, French, Lingala, English
A first generation Congolese-American, Omékongo writes and performs poetry in English, French and Swahili, and has occasionally used Wolof in his writings.
Congolese musician Samba Ngo sings in French, Lingala and English.(...)Ngo, the son of an herbal doctor, was born in the tiny village of Dibulu, in the center of what is now called the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I – like most Nigerian Yoruba speakers – don’t speak Yoruba without code-mixing, and the other language in the mélange is almost always English. Therefore, when I am speaking with a Beninese Yoruba speaker, (...) the Beninese, knowing that I am a Nigerian(...) add English words(...) Where did they pick up English words? For the traders, it is simply part of their trading strategies.
Most Nigerian traders who come from Nigeria to shop in the market don’t speak any word of French so the Beninese Yorubas had to learn some English words for dealing with Nigerian traders. Other Beninese Yoruba speakers told me that they picked up English words from Nigerian Yoruba movies.
linguist and professor at Collège de France
and author of several books translated
into several languages, remarking on the relationship
between the success of French and the decline of France
« Qu'est-ce qu'être français aujourd'hui ? »
OP-ED June 30, 2004 (Figaro)
The French language is in dramatic decline around the world, including in its traditional foreign heartlands, according to international language teachers recently gathered in Paris ...for the Expolangues trade fair...
A teacher from Portugal, Teresa Santos, said in her country 70 percent of Portuguese students preferred to take English courses, compared to just 10 percent for French.
"English is magnifique!" a teacher of Ancient Greek at the Aristotle University in Thessalonika, Thalia Stephanidou, said. "Even in poorer neighbourhoods, that language - which replaced French right after the second world war - is taught, even to old people," she said.
Even in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, English has crowded French out of the classroom, despite French being one of the country's official languages.
In Russia, where speaking French was once a prized talent among the tsars, French is trailing "far behind English" in Moscow and Saint Petersburg schools, Mascha Sveshnikova, of the Russian Cultural Centre, said.
Hat tip: Damian
FRANCE 24 is deploying a decisive and bold multilingual strategy. Its programs are broadcast on three channels, one in French, one in English and one in Arabic. Spanish will follow.
You couldn't show your powerlessness in a more humiliating manner.
Philippines may make teaching in English mandatory
A Philippine lawmaker said that he and others in the national legislature intend to make teaching all classes in English mandatory throughout the country’s schools, “not because we particularly like the language, but because it has become a necessary tool for us Filipinos to stay competitive, here and abroad.”
Rep. Eduardo Gullas made the comment after introducing a bill that was quickly endorsed by more than 85 percent of the Philippine House of Representatives. The legislator’s action came in response to a report by U.S. State Department, which warned that the Philippines was in danger of losing the comparative advantage in English it once held over other Asian nations.
Gullas noted that Filipinos without English skills were mired in poverty and being left behind. He pointed to countries like India where those who spoke fluent English were the ones cashing in on the nation’s economic boom. Surveys show that even though 65 percent of the Filipino population can speak and understand English, the number has declined by 10 percent since the mid-1990s.
Compiled by LAWRENCE VAN GELDER
Published: April 17, 2008
A French singer who plans to sing in English at the Eurovision Song Contest next month in Belgrade, Serbia, has outraged many of his countrymen, Agence France-Presse reported. The singer, Sebastien Tellier, 33, intends to perform “Divine” with almost exclusively English lyrics, becoming the first French competitor to do so since the contest began in 1956. “Many of our citizens will not understand why France has chosen not to uphold its language before millions of television viewers around the world,” said François-Michel Gonnot, a French legislator. Christine Albanel, the culture minister, said France should be “solidly behind” Mr. Tellier, above, but added that “it is a shame that there is no French song” to represent that nation. Mr. Tellier’s producer, Stéphane Elfassi, said, “Out of the 40 countries participating at least 25 will present a song in English.”
PARIS July 6, 2007 (Forbes/AP) - Mesdames, Messieurs, France is now open for business. ... In their efforts to draw a thick line between Sarkozy and his predecessor, French officials are even delivering their message in the language fellow conservative Jacques Chirac fought so hard against: English.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon told the World Investment Conference in La Baule, western France, last week:
We too often gave you the image of a country with escalating social contributions, an increasingly complex legal system, and discouraging red tape.
Addressing his audience in the language of his British wife [Penelope, who is Welsh], he said:
That is all over! We are going to make France a country where it's easy to do business, where you can concentrate on running your company without hassle or pressure other than those of the market.
"Of course English is the international business language," the head of France's international investment body, Clara Gaymard, told reporters in Sydney.
Gaymard, who is seeking to attract greater foreign investment from China, India, Australia and ASEAN nations, said that investors coming to France did not need to learn another language to do business.
Many French companies such as car manufacturer Renault and gas company Total already held their board meetings in English, she said.
"It's a new reality; we have to make it known," she said.
The Rwandese speak English. Sure, they were a Belgian colony. Sure, the secondary language used to be French. But there has been a major turnaround, even since 2006.
I used to be entirely reliant on my French. My work was in French. Conversations at the buvettes over beers were in French (with some Kinyarwanda). Hotel reservations were in French. Meetings with officials were in French. I ordered food and drinks in French.
But that was in 2006.
Since then, there has been a major push to make Rwanda a trilingual country: Kinyarwanda, English, and French. From primary school, students can opt to learn English or French, and most, it would seem, are choosing English. Rural Rwandese officials, many of whom speak very little English and fluent French, will often opt to conduct meetings in English. The service industry outside Kigali is also ramping up its English skills.
As a result, in restaurants, bars, hotels, and the like, it is generally English that is spoken, not French. And when I choose to be obstinate, and greet people with a “Bonjour,” I almost always receive a “Hello” in reply. In one case, I greeted a female police officer with “Bonjour,” and she responded, snippily, “I don’t speak French.” She was clearly offended. I switched to my American English to show her that I meant well.
How did this happen—and how did it happen so fast?
My theory is that it’s largely due to culture. The Rwandese, in general, respect authority. President Paul Kagame is beloved by the vast majority of the population, and—surprise, surprise—speaks English. I have heard that he doesn’t speak a word of French (though this may also be for political reasons, which I will discuss). President Kagame is incredibly sharp—he recognizes that English is the language of commerce and technology, which essentially means that it’s the language the country needs to advance its development. One of my friends, who is Francophone but is taking English classes, said to me the other day (in French, no less): “What have the French and the Belgians done for us? Phoot. Nothing. Why do you think Kigali is growing so fast and Rwanda is developing these last years? Because we realized that the British and the Americans help us so much more.”
Hence, the push for English. And the people, who understand Kagame’s intention, have taken up the task.
There’s a lot of history behind the question of language in Rwanda. Many attribute a large part of it to the genocide. Before the war, Rwanda was a Francophone country. It was the language of the educated, and the diplomatic language of the government. The government had strong ties to France, who provided financial as well as military support. But in the 1980s and early 1990s, the strength of the Uganda-exiled Tutsi population’s rebel forces grew, and as they made small and large sorties across Rwanda’s northern border, the French came to the aid of the weak Rwandan military, fending off the Tutsi rebel forces. The French, it is said, viewed Rwanda as a battleground for the survival of the French language in East Africa, and the victory of the Tutsi forces would mean a victory for English, since the populations in Uganda learned English.
Of course, after a lot of bloodshed and continued intervention by the French, the 1994 victors were the Tutsi rebel forces (Rwandan Patriotic Forces, or RPF). A new government was installed, and the French nightmare came true—the evolution to English began.
In the past couple of years, the language question has continued to be a prominent one. In 2006, the Rwandan government launched a commission to investigate France's role in the genocide. Shortly thereafter, Jean-Louis Bruguière, a French human rights judge, declared that President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down under orders from Paul Kagame and the RPF, which essentially meant that the RPF was responsible for starting the genocide. Following his controversial declaration, the French diplomatic mission was ordered to leave Rwanda. They now operate out of neighboring Burundi. The French school was closed, as was the French-Rwandan cultural center.
The President has taken this one step further, by officially requesting that Rwanda join the British Commonwealth. Apparently this has never been requested by a country that was not a British colony. I suspect it’s more symbolic than anything else—it’s like Rwanda is officially throwing a little extra salt on France's wounds. And given France’s role in the war, you can’t really blame them.
Of course, there are controversial undercurrents from anti-government elements. Some believe that English is the language of a Tutsi government—a government regarded as Tutsi primarily because of its head. My sense is that this is a small minority. Otherwise, some French speakers have told me that they feel left behind—the country has moved so quickly that they have not felt able to catch up. Whereas linguistically, they had been the elite, this is now no longer the case.
My language advice? Bring your French dictionary if you would like. But I’ve learned the hard way that unless you can speak Kinyarwanda, start every conversation in English. If they tell you that they don’t understand, then use your French. Because you’re much less likely to offend.
posted by Morgan C. @ 10:45 AM