New lingua franca upsets French
That the French resent the global supremacy of the English language is nothing new, but as Hugh Schofield finds out, a newly evolved business-speak version is taking over.
They were giving out the annual Prix de la Carpette Anglaise the other day. Literally it means the English Rug Prize, but doormat would be the better translation.
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As the citation explains, the award goes to the French person or institution who has given the best display of "fawning servility" to further the insinuation into France of the accursed English language.
Among the runners-up this year: the supermarket company Carrefour which changed the name of its Champion chain of stores to Carrefour Market, as in not the French word "marche".
Also the provocatively-named Paris band Nelson (the Admiral, not Mr Mandela is who they have in mind) whose frontman J.B. sings in English because, he says, French does not have the right cadences for true rock.
But topping the poll for grave disservices to the mother tongue: France's higher education minister, Valerie Pecresse.
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Her crime: proclaiming to the press that she had no intention of speaking French when attending European meetings in Brussels, because, she said, it was quite obvious that English was now the easiest mode of communication.
The rise and rise of the English language is a sensitive subject for many here in France, who believe: one, that French has every bit as much right to be considered a global tongue.
And two, even conceding to English victory in the war for linguistic supremacy, the least the French themselves can do is defend their own territory and keep the ghastly invader at a decent remove.
The same group that sponsors the Prix de la Carpette also brings legal actions against companies that, it says, breach the law.
For example, by not issuing French language versions of instructions to staff.
Recently I have spent a lot of time in French multinational companies, and what is inescapable is the stranglehold that English already has on the world of business here.
French executives draft reports, send e-mails, converse with their international colleagues - and increasingly even amongst themselves - in English.
It is of course a kind of bastardised, runty form of business-speak full of words like "drivers" and "deliverables" and "outcomes" to be "valorised", but nonetheless quite definitely not French.
In the BBC, 08:04 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009: