Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is French.......Toast?

Don't you just love that title? But seriously, this is a pretty interesting piece on a development about which I was totally unaware. The piece is about the decline in usage of the French language, and the corresponding rise in the usage of English.

My suspicion is that English has a certain universality due to it's bastardization; many English words and phrases are derived from other languages. English is truly a living language. One the other hand, the French have jealously protected the "purity" of their language, even to the point of forbidding the absorption of foreign words.

But that's just my take.


It's been indisputable for some time that English is becoming the ‘universal language’. As the number of living languages has steadily decreased, the use of English has expanded on every continent. And though English has not — despite predictions — crushed all other languages (German, Russian, and Spanish, to cite the prime examples, all remain strong), one language does seem to be undergoing the predicted cataclysmic collapse. English may not yet have won the globe, but French has definitely lost it.

The reasons for the decline of French are many, including geography. Francophone regions are spread out: think of France, Vietnam, Quebec, and Guadeloupe, to start. Many of these regions are without direct connections to other French-speaking countries. The result is that many of the people choose to abandon French for more useful languages within the region. In contrast, German, Russian and Spanish speakers are based in numerous adjacent countries, each supporting the others.

French has been most visibly hurt in the last few decades in Africa. In North Africa, French has had to compete with Arabic, a language which Arabs are now clinging to as proudly as the French have traditionally clung to French. South of the Sahara, countries which formerly had large French-speaking populations are making the switch to English due to its relevance in Southern Africa, as well as internationally.

Do read the whole thing, as they say.

The French have been so nasty about the sanctity of their culture, and their language, that it's hard to lament this news. On the other hand, we shouldn't be as nasty as they, should we? Color me magnanimous on this one.

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