April 25, 2010

"the future of the French language is now in Africa"

French is now spoken mostly by people who aren’t French. More than 50 percent of them are African. French speakers are more likely to be Haitians and Canadians, Algerians and Senegalese, immigrants from Africa and Southeast Asia and the Caribbean who have settled in France, bringing their native cultures with them.
How to interpret these facts? Some think that the rescue of French is called for (think: eliminating words borrowed from English, like "weekend"), others point out that the language is thriving like never before, reflecting the reality of diversity and globalization.

This is how Nancy Huston, a Canadian-born novelist here, puts it:
The world has changed....The French literary establishment, which still thinks of itself as more important than it is, complains about the decline of its prestige but treats francophone literature as second class, [while] ... laying claim to the likes of Kundera, Beckett and Ionesco, who were all born outside France. That is because, like Makine, they made the necessary declaration of love for France. But if the French bothered actually to read what came out of Martinique or North Africa, they would see that their language is in fact not suffering.

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