Article: Franglais row (BBC)


From the BBC’s website:

“The French parliament is debating a new road map for French universities, which includes the proposal of allowing courses to be taught in English. For some, this amounts to a betrayal of the national language and, more specifically, of a particular way at looking at the world – for others it’s just accepting the inevitable. …

“According to the left-leaning daily newspaper Liberation, 790 higher education courses in France are already taught in English, and like Fioraso it sees nothing wrong with the idea.

Its all-English front page on Tuesday featured the words “Let’s do it” in bold capital letters.

Liberation represents a growing fringe of the French population – young, urban, trendy, the kind which, in the last 20 years, has adopted franglais in their daily life.

For them, the work of the Academie Francaise – which offers grammatical advice and alternatives to new foreign words – now feels irrelevant and obsolete. They like nothing more than adding English sounding suffixes to French words, or combining English words into new terms such as “fooding” (made out of “food” and “feeling”).

The result is a fantasy English that exists nowhere else; this, many think in France, is an inverted snobbery. “Why speak French well when you can speak English badly?” asks with irony the literary critic Bernard Pivot.”

I would hope that France does keep up some of its language snobbery–every language has different ways of viewing the world (the article likens it to a particular ‘vision’ of life). However, I did notice on this trip, as compared to my earlier trip in 2003, that many more French people spoke fairly good English, and were more willing to use it. English does seem to be the language of the world (particularly in business), but I think there is a place for others.

2 thoughts on “Article: Franglais row (BBC)

  1. Interesting ideas, Alyssa. I know from my work that language is all tied up in how we (the culture) see the world. and many, many people fight to keep their language. since more than 1 billion people speak mandarin, it will be interesting to see what becomes the language of the world in 40 or 50 years. (english is third most common language and french is down the list quite a ways)

  2. I’m reminded of when I learned in elementary school that the Inuit have a hundred different words for snow (it might have been more or less, my memory is hazy) but we, in English, only have one.

    Language always changes, but I hope that the understanding of different languages having different viewpoints is always recalled. In 50 years, even English will sound different, or have different added words. Maybe we will begin to see words coming in from Asian languages?

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