The Salon II

Friday, March 24, 2006

Francophone, Francophile...

An exception from most people in my country, my first language is French - although I speak fluently 2 of the 4 official Congolese languages. I also went to school from 2nd grade to 12th, in the French School system (yes, the French have International "French Schools" all over the world), and sometimes it feels like I know France better than the French (how rrogant of me, I know). BUt one of the side effects of all this, is that I have a tendency to be very defensive of the French language. Call me crazy! But the personal attachment I have developed with the language, and its right to stand as an international language (along with Swahili and Mandinka, in my opinion), is something I just cannot help. That is why I understood Pres. Jacques Chirac when he caused this mini-havoc:
BBC NEWS | Europe | Chirac upset by English address: "French President Jacques Chirac showed his temper at the EU summit when a French business leader addressed delegates in English.

He stormed out of a session when Ernest-Antoine Seilliere said he chose English 'because that is the accepted business language of Europe today'.

Mr Chirac told reporters on Friday he was 'deeply shocked' that a Frenchman chose to address the summit in English."
Now I write in English because I live in the USA, and my audience is majoritarily anglophone. But i also write article in French, because it is important that one culture don't get the impression that it can simply steamroll all the others, because they have bigger means of distribution. If to make that point I realize that I have to write everything bilingually, I might just do that. Chirac is somewhat of an overgrown drama-king, but I feel him...


  • Hi, Chirac did not walked away because M.Seilliere spoke english (Chirac is fluent in english and has certainly no problem with the language!), but because M.Seilliere, who started his speech in french, suddendly turned to english because he said "english is the language for business". English is no more the language of business than french is the language of poetry, or italian the language of arts. Any speech can be given in any language, in other words, a language is not used according to the content of a speech but according to your audience. In this case, the audience was the european council and as far as I know, the very vast majority of attendants don't have english as their mother tongue. All speeches are translated anyway and english was absolutely not necessary. M. Chirac was right to point out this anomaly, but wrong to walk out, he should have said to the audience "Et maintenant, mesdames et messieurs, we are going to hear M.Seilliere speech". That would have had much more impact...

    By Blogger Astral, at 2:04 AM  

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