Thursday, July 05, 2012
From here in French:
A charter of the French languages inspired by Quebec which would limit English signage in shops has become "almost indispensable" in France due to the proliferation of "Americanism" in the country, said renowned linguist Claude Hagège on Wednesday.The first problem with this idea: France has a great many regional languages that are not interested in seeing French become even more predominant over them in a country that has been even less permissive to regional tongues than most others in Europe. It looks like France will actually ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (Hollande said he would do this if elected and now he has a majority in parliament) so a law putting French at the forefront would likely not be possible. On the other hand, a Charter of French Languages (plural) could be possible, since this law is directed entirely at English anyway and stating something to the effect that French languages must be given priority in signage (i.e. French or Breton in Brittany but not any language besides these two) would easily solve this...if France decides to take up such a bill in the first place, that is.
If French has lost its attraction it is due partly to the decline of French industrial power which has resulted in an "imitation of the language of power", from which comes the proliferation of English in the streets of France.
Claude Hagège believes that France would do well to emulate Quebec, where in the late 1970s Quebec separatists (then in power) adopted loi 101 (Charter of the French language) which imposed unilingual French signage. Following legal challenges the law was watered down to make French "predominant" in signage which allowing other languages.
Should France adopt such a law to preserve its language? "20 years ago I would have said no, but now I regret to say yes. It is in France's interest to take up this marvelous Bill 101...in France until recently this was inconceivable, compared to Quebec which saw itself as an island of seven million in an Anglophone ocean." But today "a law comparable to Bill 101 has now become, I say openly, almost indispensable in France."