June 21, 2024

Macron 2018

Macron is taking French to a new level

pound. This is a guest post. Jeremy Aherney Professor of Modern Languages ​​and Cultures at the University of Warwick. The text first appeared on September 1, 2022 in Conversation.

Since the start of his first term as French president in 2017, Emmanuel Macron has made the revival of French as a global language his most important cultural project.

For nearly three centuries, French’s status as a world language has been considered one of the most important assets of the French nation. The language will be in the language It is spoken in 106 countries and is the official language of 32 countries and governments.

France has benefited from its “possession” of the language in which many of the world’s most influential political, commercial, intellectual and artistic debates have been conducted. Half a century ago, however, under Presidents Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou, it was already clear that the French language was beginning to lose its relevance. Increasingly important discussions were held in other languages, especially in English, which gradually established itself as the dominant lingua franca throughout the world.

More recently, defenders of the French language have accused the French elite of alienating the English language – or “Globish, as some international variants sometimes do.” to be called disdain – Dim.

Macron has attempted to reflect this spirit of capitulation in a series of high-profile speeches and projects. His thoughts were mainly in one Speech at the Institut de France It was presented in Paris, but also at presentations in OuagadougouAnd the FrankfurtAnd the Yerevan and in Sorbonne explained.

In Villers-Cotterêts, on the outskirts of Paris, his new 185 million euro architectural project, Cité Internationale de la Langue Françaiseto the opening. The goal is to present French to the world as a global language that is historically rooted but future-oriented and dynamic.

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In a recently posted file paper I examined why Macron attempted to “re-reject” French and how his approach differed from that of his predecessors. I researched the difficulties he faced and how they related to another of his top political priorities, namely the reconfiguration of Franco-African relations.

New representations of French

French was once one of the two languages ​​(along with English) that gave its speakers the greatest possible direct access to the corridors of diplomatic influence, to the pinnacle of intellectual innovation, and the negotiation of business opportunities.

But the importance and allure of the French language can no longer be taken for granted. Over the past three decades, English has undoubtedly become the world’s dominant working language. Other languages ​​such as Mandarin, Arabic, Hindi, Spanish and Portuguese have emerged along with their respective geopolitical regions.

In my contribution, I examine what is new in Macron’s approach, how he has accommodated the new global language environment, and how well it has worked in the long run.

First, Macron sought to place language in a new transnational space. The language should no longer be centered on France itself as a nation. Presented them as a “sphere” that The epicenter was in the heart of Africa..

In Macron’s eyes, the UK’s exit from the European Union meant that the French language was one A new place in Europe Receive. However, the future of the language lies above all in Africa, the main geopolitical region of the language.

Macron came to the conclusion that by 2050 the number of French speakers worldwide will increase from about 300 million An estimated 750 million can increase, and that 85% of them are in Africa will live. (These projections depend largely on educational trends and decisions made in Africa in the coming decades.) The remaining 15% will live mostly in French-speaking Europe and Canada.

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Second, Macron opened new ground in introducing French as a subject that future speakers would like. Traditionally, compared to other languages, French is often considered a Clear and precise in expression shown.

Macron Generate alternative ideas, which originated mainly from French-speaking authors from Africa and the Caribbean. Presented French as a vibrant, mixed language that creatively rubs shoulders with other languages ​​to create new forms of expression.

Third – and more pragmatic – Macron wanted to present French as a language with tangible benefits for its speakers. This was something his ancestors did not need to stress, relying on the aura of the previous language as the language of prestige and elite.

But Macron said in his speech at the Institut de France that a language with international reach gives its speakers access to a wide range of educational resources, job opportunities and information sources. It also helps to ensure that the world is not subordinated to the Earth by a single global lingua franca.

Through programs like this Bilingual immersion classes To play a special role in it Protecting the status of other African languages Who is she in contact with?

Not all listeners like students in this field Speech in Ouagadougou In November 2017, they convinced him. Macron later had to refute doubts about his desire for the French Protection “against” other African languages.

Obstacles to Macron’s efforts

These doubts were not the only obstacles to Macron’s commitment to the French language.

His attempts to reconfigure relations between France and Africa encountered many problems. He wanted these relationships to be seen as mutually beneficial exchanges, emerging gradually from the heavy legacies of colonialism and often opaque deals post-independence era.

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but the Military stagnation in the Sahelrise of Anti-French sentiment In West Africa, denouncing “transcendent” speech By the new military junta in Mali and Guinea and the differences with the Algerian government over Remember my history It had a negative effect.

The political promotion of France itself has also been criticized. in one Detailed Report In 2021 over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, responsibility for this was partly attributed to President François Mitterrand’s desire to maintain a tense “Francophone” zone of influence.

Shown under the Cameroonian government violent developmentsThe promotion of the French language in Africa cannot be reduced to an account of common benefits.

Indeed, great African thinkers argue this way Achille Mbembe and Alain MabankoFrench is a vibrant and thriving African language. However, its development would be hindered if it were ostensibly linked to the foreign policy interests of the French nation.

The future of the French in Africa

French will only become firmly established as an African language if Africans clearly view French as being in their best interest. This is the only way to prevent the recent switch – full or partial – to English in countries like RwandaAnd the Gabon And the Algeria It becomes an inevitable process.

Public debates over the opening of the Cité Internationale de la langue française should provide the first indication of whether Macron’s strong commitment to the French language will last into his second term. And what are the modifications.

Interests of the author related to the topic

Opinions expressed in articles on Infosperber correspond to the author’s subjective assessments.