English in French comics

Source: World Englishes, Volume 27, Numbers 3-4, August/November 2008 , pp. 535-548(14)
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing

English today has a strong influence on many languages, French among them. English borrowings and code-switching in general are now a salient feature of the dynamics of French. Many purists still oppose this, and continue to perceive the spread of English as a threat to the French language. They draw their convictions from René Etiemble's classic Parlez-vous franglais? published in 1964. Etiemble saw French comics as one of the major sources of the English/American invasion of French among the youth. In that context, this paper analyses the role of English in the Lucky Luke and Astérix stories (with reference to Tintin as well). The analysis shows that American English is mostly used for describing human and physical landscapes or for the purpose of humorous narrative; the discourse itself, however, remains essentially French. While Etiemble and his followers saw in the comics' genre a sort of subtractive bilingualism, this work suggests that it is more appropriate to speak of additive bilingualism.


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