Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Frenchman Admits The Obvious

For generations, the French have fiercely guarded their language against the horreurs anglais.

But France's education minister yesterday admitted for the first time that the secret to success is speaking better English.

Xavier Darcos claimed poor English is now a 'handicap' because all international business is conducted in the language, and said French schools would offer extra lessons during the holidays.

He also admitted that, because of globalisation, very few people outside France will being able to speak French in the future.
Daily Mail link

There's nothing wrong with learning to speak French, but as far as "international" languages go, it's a language of the past.

When I was in high school I took German. Nothing wrong with that, and practically, it's probably of less utility than French. Nothing wrong with that, either--I think we should offer more languages in schools, not fewer. But it's nice to see a Frenchman acknowledge what so many others refuse to--that English is, for the time being, the international language.

And in the United States, it's the language of opportunity and success.

7 comments:

Bill Chapman said...

I would like to argue the case for Esperanto as the international language. It is a planned language which belongs to no one country or group of states.

Take a look at www.esperanto.net

Esperanto works! I've used it in speech and writing in a dozen countries over recent years.

Darren said...

I've looked at Esperanto and don't like it--but that's just one opinion.

Wishing is one thing, reality is another. English is the language of opportunity, and not just in the English-speaking countries.

Anonymous said...

"I would like to argue the case for Esperanto as the international language."

One can argue that Esperanto *should* be the international language. One cannot argue that it *IS* *the* international language. It isn't. Business and science use English. As does the educated populace in larger cities all over the world.

"Esperanto works! I've used it in speech and writing in a dozen countries over recent years."

I have no doubt that it 'works' in the narrow sense that it has a vocabulary and a grammar. In that sense, Middle Egyptian works, too. As does Latin. And many other designed languages.

It does not, however, 'work' in the sense that it can be used to communicate with many other people from all over the world.

Go to Stockholm speaking nothing but English. You'll get along fine. Same with Paris (yep, Paris!). You can get by with only English in Athens, and Bangalore and Chennai and Singapore. I don't know about Tokyo or Shanghai. I suspect that English works less well in rural areas of Sweden and India, etc.

No, not everyone in these large cities speaks English, but enough do that one can get by just fine.

But ... the same cannot be said for Esperanto. Go to Stockholm speaking only Esperanto and it will be much harder to get around than if you speak English. Same for Paris and Athens and ...

Scientific journals tend to be in English, not Esperanto.

Movies that are shown all over the world tend to be in English, not Esperanto.

Just the way things are.

Won't be changing anytime soon.

-Regards,
Mark Roulo

Ellen K said...

Wow, I guess Charles DeGaulle really is dead.

Brian Barker said...

Hi Darren.

Sorry to say so, but your comments smack of xenophobia. I live in England, and not even the England soccer manager speaks English!

However within a short period of 121 years Esperanto is now placed within the top 100 languages, out of 6,000 worldwide according to the CIA factbook. It it the 17th most used language by Wikipedia, and it is in active use by Facebook and Skype.

Solid arguments for Esperanto can be seen on the Youtube video, by Professor Piron, a former translator at the United Nations.

If you have time please check http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LV9XU

Darren said...

If you think my dismissal of Esperanto is "xenophobic", then, in the immortal (paraphrased) words of Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it means."

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