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France bans popular English expressions

France bans popular English expressions | Geography Education |
France declares war on the English language. Erin Burnett reports....
Seth Dixon's insight:

France is famous for trying to slow the linguistic diffusion of globalization's most powerful online language (which also happens to belong to their age-old cultural and political rival).  France has a commission dedicated to removing new words that have English origins since 1996 with the goal of introducing words with have linguistic roots in French. Recently then have done away with the Twitter term #hashtag to #mot-dièses.  This video criticizes this cultural practice and it is also derided in this NPR article.   However this does not mean that France is immune to cultural pressure to change linguistic traditions.  There was been a movement to alter the term Mademoiselle on official documents with a new title that allows women the freedom to choose the form of address that they prefer (and not to force them to reveal their marital status--think Ms. vs Miss).

Questions to Ponder: Why (and how) do languages change over time?  Is it possible to keep a language 'pure?'

Tags: language, culture, globalization, unit 3 culture, France, gender.

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 5, 2014 8:21 PM

unit 3

Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 16, 2:52 PM

I can't say I was a fan of Ms. Burnett's reporting style. First of all, implying that America is the only country that speaks English was a little blind. Second, the little chuckles and smirks she gives is a bit condescending. She came off rather harsh and confronting of the French. And I'm sure France isn't "declaring war on English" as they are probably doing this to other languages. Finally, her last remark referencing the song "Voulez vous coucher avec moi" was a tad inappropriate in my opinion. That being said, it's understandable for a country to try and protect its language. It's part of its culture and its heritage.


Languages change overtime through interaction with other people. Like Ms. Burnett pointed out, there are some French words that have become common use in the everyday American conversation like a la carte and bon voyage. It is impossible to keep a language "pure" or rid of other language influences in today's society. With all the interaction happening via the web and other media outlets, people are bound to pick up words from other languages to use in their lives. 

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 9, 10:45 AM

Frances attempts at keeping the French language pure are futile. It is impossible to stop the spread of information in a society. In the age of the internet, information is going to spread. If the internet can take down middle eastern dictators, it is going to expose French children to English words. This entire policy is a bad public relations move for the nation of France.  It makes the nation and its government seem as if they are intolerant of other cultures and views. France prides itself on being an open democratic society. An open society can not ban a language. France should reverse this policy immediately.

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