Well, he would, wouldn't he?

Emmanuel Macron is apparently telling us all that French – that largely unintelligible series of grunts – is and should remain a world language. This is held to be some sort of hypocrisy given that his English is pretty good for a foreigner and that he’s the first French President to give interviews in John Bull’s Finest.

All of which isn’t the point at all. Instead, look at who he was talking to when he said it:

Emmanuel Macron launched an international drive to promote French as a “world language” on Tuesday, urging Francophone countries to resist the temptation to turn to English.

“France today should be proud of being one country among others that learns, speaks and writes in French,” he told the Académie Française, an august body of luminaries that has struggled for decades to turn back the relentless tide of English expressions flooding into French. “French should become the language that creates tomorrow’s world.”

Yes, he’s saying it to the Academie Francaise. Not to say this at this location to that audience is as with telling Mother that the apple pie’s not that good, telling the RSM that regimental pride isn’t a real thing.

That is, don’t take any notice of what he’s said there because given the there well, he would, wouldn’t he? No one pitches up to the librarians’ convention and insists this reading stuff is all old hat now, do they?

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  1. Not sure I agree with this argument. If a politician wants to make a statement about some policy area they will make sure they are giving a speech to the right group. In that way the fact that he gave a speech at the AF is itself the message.

  2. More merde from Granny’s Boy.

    Given that France won’t be France for much longer (and as little time as I have for the French I still prefer them to the alternative) Micron should have much more urgent concerns.

    Although being sent to the chemists by Granny for two packets of female Viagra and a giant tub of KY is about the limit for tasks he could manage.

    If Joan of Arc is still waiting in the wings it is getting time for her to make a move.

    Perhaps Sir Francis Drake could give her a lift on his way here.

  3. Anyone is as free to speak French at home as he is to invent his own “gender” at home. And exploding human productivity is making it easier for other people to offer you goods in French, if you seem ready to buy. However, the global interconnection of computers was worked out by the English-speaking, and if you participate in current-events blogs like this, technical blogs, or management forums, you have two choices: Use English, or use Google Translate and apologize for your poor English. If you go to a consortium meeting, your options are to understand English or wait to run the published minutes through Google and scratch your head at the ambiguities.

    By the way, English is the one major language without any such Academy in which a priesthood tells the unwashed how to use it. We lament the evolution and misuse of the language in the same wails that the owner of the small hardware store on Main Street complains that the world is moving too quickly.

    • As I’ve said before, English is the world’s second language. If a few shitholes in Africa want to keep using at as their first then fair enough, but if they want to benefit from trade and globailsation they need to learn English. Not to talk to the English or Americans but to talk to the rest of the world. When I was travelling it never failed to amaze me when I’d hear, for example, Japanese and Indonesians speaking a version of English that meant they could do business.

  4. And if he says it in French… not going to get to a wide audience, is it?

    France (but not the Paris suburbs), half of Belgium. Luxembourg, bits of Switzerland, bits of Africa & some very small islands off Canada. Oh & Haiti, when they’re not busy being screwed by NGO officials.

    • You omit Québec, the second most populous province of Canada, where the government (when not agitating for secession) is almost as militant as that of France in compelling the people to speak French, extending to all business signage, and having the effect that English is taught in the schools by Francophones (that is: badly).

  5. But there is an unspoken elephant in the room. Why would he be concerned about French in Africa?

    Because some African countries are turning from French to English. Rwanda has done so. The present government spent so many years in exile in Uganda they were English speaking when they came back and they have dumped French. Gabon has said that it will also replace French with English as the official second language.

    Even Morocco has said that it will change the language of higher education from French to English.

    French is losing out. Granny’s boy can say what he likes but it is hard to see it competing.

  6. By sheer chance, English is one of the best placed languages for science and the internet due to two technical properties.

    1) no genders – these are useless and just make it a bastard to use nouns
    2) it it not ‘inflected’ so the root words are not changed to show usage (no noun endings, hardly any verb endings). A table is a table no matter the context. French and eastern European languages are a pain for this. Imagine searching Google if your language could give it 14 different noun endings (like Estonian).

    The Britons discarded stuff from Latin and it was a really good choice.

  7. @Firefoxx
    “English is one of the best placed languages for science and the internet due to two technical properties.”

    Make that Three:
    3) No lines, dots or squigles above or below letters

    Long time ago I asked MrsPcar why she wrote Malmö in Swedish, but Malmoe in English. She said it was so we knew to pronounce it Malmur.

    I laughed.

    • There are also its liabilities: (1) No way to tell how to say a word by looking at it (spelling sometimes encompasses history, no exact correspondence between letters and sounds), (2) No clue what part of speech any word is from looking at it, so some sentences such as headlines can be parsed in multiple hilarous ways, (3) Many examples of one-to-many correspondence (same spelling or same pronunciation for different words). Automated text-to-speech or speech-to-text can never work well without a lot of AI for context, or instruction to the user to use not-quite-English.

      These liabilities are also present in other natural languages, but English takes the cake for (1).

  8. Pcar 8.40
    Good question. I think German has a regulatory body, which kind of fits the stereotype. Didn’t they decide a while ago to get rid of the es-set B letter and that all new nouns are neuter?