The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

23 October 2004

Many tongues, some forks

During his tour of the Pacific Rim earlier this month, French President Jacques Chirac, anxious to get in a few shots at the Americans, was quoted as follows:

There is a tendency towards a prevailing Anglo-Saxon culture which eclipses the others. If we accepted our American friends' ideas, there would quite quickly be only one form of cultural expression, and all the others would be stifled to the sole benefit of American culture.

"Nothing would be worse for humanity," said Chirac, "than if there were only one language." Especially if that language were English, I suspect.

Reality intrudes, however, even into Gallic machinations, and a government review of the French education system calls for all students to study English, which is, after all, the language of "international communication." Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the French Prime Minister, reportedly favors the change, but M. Raffarin isn't in a position to dictate the terms, and a deputy within Raffarin's UMP party, Jacques Myard, has come up with what might be considered an alternative approach:

English is the most-spoken language today, but that won't lastů If we must make a language compulsory, it should be Arabic.

However, Greg Hlatky replies that they won't have to:

With Europe's trends, learning Arabic will soon be made compulsory for you.

I suppose we can start to worry when l'Académie française opens up an Arabic annex.

Posted at 8:18 AM to Almost Yogurt