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Subject: Le Français se perd?
Shirrush    10/16/2007 4:34:21 PM
I found the following at ht#p://, which is not exactly the most francophilic websites in my bookmarks list. I think this view is exaggeratedly Parisian, and way to much influenced by the truly degenerate TV culture in France. What say you?
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Shirrush    Here you go:   10/16/2007 4:36:06 PM

Too often the French can't think (and speak) straight ? English provides freedom of thought and scope of expression, things that French doesn't offer 

posted by Erik @ 10:34 AM

The pretentiousness and fuzziness are unbearable. Often when I doubt the soundness of a French statement, I translate it into English, and if it still sounds absurd in English, I know it's absurd.
A Frenchman who went to live in the United States before returning to France has been accused of having an "abhorrence of French". Bookaroo replies:
Of course no, I have no "abhorrence of French" as they superficially put it. I belong to the last generation of French kids who had to learn Latin (I had 8 years of it) and to master the inflexible rules of good classical French. In NY I was known as the only French-American in my crowd who made a systematic effort to maintain his practice of the language.

With the few special students I am occasionally willing to instruct in French, I use only plays, especially Georges Feydeau's, or J.P. Sartre's for contemporary French. Both show an exquisite use of French. But in real life in GP, there's nothing that we hear in ordinary conversation or read in ordinary newspapers that can be compared to those playwrights.

What I can't stand is the mangling of the language by all ordinary modern French who've never learnt how to use it, and thus just write or say whatever they feel is understandable. My joke is that the French language is too difficult for the (modern) French. I would estimate that 80-90 % of modern French people don't know the language any more. Only professionals, who have to use French as their main tool — politicians, diplomats, lawyers, professors, bankers, writers — who need to be precise and have mastered good French through disciplined and relentless practice. And their kids, lucky they, directly learn from these proficient speakers. What a rarity and what pleasure to meet a 20-year old who can speak French beautifully and fluently. But all the other kids learn their French from parents who had only limited or bastardized knowledge of it (country people, immigrants, farm and industry workers, etc...) French is a rigid language (another joke: God invented French to torture people's minds), with much less flexibility than English, and much more difficult to use than English. English provides freedom of thought and scope of expression, things that French doesn't offer.

In addition I can no longer stand the pretentious French that is used to sound "serious", "profound", "malin", with flights of mysticism, pseudo-poetry, or often obscure verbosity. The big abstractions in French are unbearably vapid and cloudy (l'amour, la tendresse, la violence, la liberté, la fraternité, l'égalité, la connerie, etc...) all that mawkish sentimentality that has no real connection with people who are only interested in money, sex and food, in that order.

Too often the French can't think (and speak) straight. They don't know how to come to the point and love to go circles around the bush and leave you guessing. They've never been taught to be efficient, to focus and stay with the subject. Digressions, divagations, tangents, etc...the art of obfuscation. I read the Figaro every morning, and often I have to puke at the writing. The pretentiousness and fuzziness are unbearable. Often when I doubt the soundness of a French statement, I translate it into English, and if it still sounds absurd in English, I know it's absurd. That's my limus test. I have 500 books on art and art history, including French art, but I avoid those written by French art historians because of their temptations to sound profound and (to me) totally off their rocker. Not surprisingly the major art books on French art are written by British or American writers (occasionally Australian, as in the case of Robert Hughes).

I do follow the English-language theater in GP, but I avoid its attempts at performing in French. The English-language actors in GP find it exciting to test their ability to perform in French. For them it has great personal value. For me, their exercise holds no interest at all. Better to go to an authentic French play.

This is not abhorrence of French, but abhorrence of the mangling of the language by those who don't know it, and the misuse by those who know it but want to impress their audience by sounding "profond," "serieux," "malin", etc...always trying to make an effect even if they have to torture the language. Swim in ambiguity and fuzziness, sound high-falutin like an angel floating
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Godofgamblers       10/19/2007 10:19:17 PM
I don't think the situation is as hopeless as this blog makes out, Shirrush. However, French is somewhat in disarray as it is confronted by the dominance of English around the world. Nowhere is this problem more acute than in Quebec. The Quebecois have their own "Academie francaise", namely, "L'Office de la langue francaise", which tries to 'correct' the general population on usage. For instance , they release edicts on the correct words to use, such as "telecopieur" instead of 'un fax', or the ludicrous "un hambourgeois" for "a hamburger". Most of their efforts are in vain though one can see their dilemma: the rapid influx of new English words has left them scrambling to come up with equivalents, or face accepting more and more "mots barbares" into the language.
Another danger is 'le calque'. These are English STRUCTURES that are insinuating themselves into French Canadian speech, such as "je cherche pour", "j'attends pour" or 'j'envoie mon application" (demande d'emploi). These are much more dangerous because it is not just words but the whole language structure which is becoming anglicized.
In France the problem is not as acute, but the pressure is being felt.
Many young French people and especially immigrants see French as something archaic, quaint... outdated. If you chat on the French forums on the net, the first thing that strikes you is the horrible spelling and grammar! It does seem that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The worst are the Beur sites, which massacre the French language.
I believe there is a movement in France to open up the language and make it more accessible. A group of intellectuals came forward recently with some sort of manifesto recently to that effect. What matters is that all this is symptomatic of pressure on the language from English.
The Francophonie is still strong, but under pressure linguistically, it's true.
But you see this phenomenon in every language around the world. In Indonesian there are many English words entering into the language, and the gov't sometimes sends out info on Indo words to use, instead of words like "email" or "website" etc but no one heeds them. The spread of English is a global phenonomen and has no equivalent in history.
Ironically, Africa and not Paris may well be the battlefield where the future of the French language will be decided, if you know what I mean.
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nominoe       11/30/2007 5:54:38 AM
"Too often the French can't think (and speak) straight. They don't know how to come to the point and love to go circles around the bush and leave you guessing. They've never been taught to be efficient, to focus and stay with the subject."
English provides freedom of thought and scope of expression, things that French doesn't offer"

This is so racist, it's unbelievable. So, the... "author" thinks that the french language makes the french "inferior" in some way to those who speak english.  French  scientists, artists and engineers are perfectly able to think efficiently in french, and i won't even adresse that BS of "freedom of thought, scope of expression".

This kind of article reminds me what the nazis have written about the jews. This is a new low in french bashing. I've been reading SP for 4 years, and i'm appaled by the BS we can now read on a daily basis. To all those who hate my counrty, and would like to see france die in riots and islamofascism, i will say this :

France have existed for more than 1500 years. It's still one of the more advanced and powerfull country on earth, and one of the best countries to live in. Get it, half of the world will be destroyed before France cease to exist. Deal ith your own problems and don't worry for us.
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Rodrigo       9/15/2008 2:57:06 PM
That blog is as French as Disneyland Paris (or Eurodisney, or whatever that place is called). I wouldn't judge the vitality of the French language by the personal experience of an American (born in France, but very American in its mentality)
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Hugo       3/12/2009 5:05:11 AM

This is an interesting opinion. I can?t comment on the current state of the French language because despite having lived there, I never learnt the language. I reluctantly admit that it is a beautiful language acoustically, particularly when spoken by the fairer sex.


When I was at University there, I was told that French was a very diplomatic language and the French were a very analytical people which could pose potential obstacles in conversation with non-French like myself whose approach to communication at work wasn?t as analytical but instead more direct. This has little to do with the language itself however and more to do with the different cultures which the author seems to have dismissed or be ignorant of.   


I believe the author of this blog however is somewhat myopic. It is true that the English language is making inroads into other European languages and I fear for the survival of smaller linguistic societies such as the Dutch and Scandinavians. However, the true threat posed by the English language is, in my view, to the English language. The onset of the internet, mobile phone usage etc has caused far more harm to the English language than the "harm" that the introduction of words such as Hamburger (actually a German word imported into English) is likely doing to French. 


I see the decline at work with English speaking executive management constantly making simple grammatical and spelling errors in email communication, confusing one word for another in presentations. More commonly it is witnessed in everyday life when speaking to younger people whose level of articulation in the English language is abysmal. Recently even Oxford and Cambridge bemoaned that their students today would not have been considered literate a generation or two ago and sought to implement courses designed to improve the now substandard linguistics of the most talented of British youth. 


When I was last in America I was surprised to find that simple words like colleague were no longer understood by all and instead had a friendly American explain to compatriots that it meant "co-worker." Because I no longer speak very much English in everyday life anymore I tend to use the more sophisticated English of the authors I read or the academic papers I review. Unfortunately, this renders conversation with native English speakers more difficult. It seems that the onset of every new word such as "blog" results in the loss of three words whose contextual richness no longer has a place in today?s communication. President Obama is considered articulate in his home country, I consider him average (though I do not want to disparage his considerable communicative skills).


The arsenal of vocabulary of the German speaker is, on average, three times that of the native English speaker ? German being a very direct, "engineer?s language" leaving little room for lack of clarity presumably requiring more precision. I expect French is similar. Even if the entire English vocabulary was adopted by a German speaker, he would still use two German words for every English word a native English speaker spoke.  Is French any different?

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lurker       3/13/2009 10:56:12 PM
I'm surprised that the changing of either the French or English languages could be considered the 'destruction' of them. Could this not merely be considered an evolution of the respective languages?
A question, didn't the Romans experience a similar language dissemination among the peoples in their respective sphere of influence?
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