Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Media — Rick Moran @ 6:53 am

Want to have some fun?

What’s the quickest way to get a Frenchman stuttering mad? Tell him that French “values and its global vision” will be broadcast around the world in English:

France’s television dream of mounting a challenge to CNN and the British Broadcasting Corp. has suffered an embarrassing setback after reports that the new channel would broadcast most of its output in English.

Starved of realistic funding for a 24-hour news station, CII is scheduled to go on-air in December for transmission initially to Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Its annual budget, met by the French taxpayer, will be $88 million, about an eighth of CNN’s.

President Jacques Chirac promised a “CNN a la francaise” in the 2002 election campaign and is committed to a station that will “spread the values of France and its global vision throughout the world.”

It was always known that part of the channel’s output would be in English and Arabic, but champions of the French language were appalled at suggestions that its output in French be less than four hours a day.

The reaction among the Guardians of All Things French has been predictable. Back in 1994, the Assemblée Générale passed the Loi Toubon (named after the Cultural Minister at the time Jacques Toubon) that actually banned the use of about 3500 mostly English words that had seeped into general usage. Called “Franglish” by the cultural overseers, the law actually called for fines or prison terms if one were to use foreign words in business or government communications, in broadcasting, and in advertising if “suitable equivalents” existed in French. To make sure that suitable equivalents in fact existed, a committee was formed to come up with French alternatives.

Thus, Ford Motor Company found itself in the ridiculous position of having to remove the term “air bags” from its advertisements and substitute instead, the culturally mandated “coussins gonflables de protectio.”

It is in broadcasting that the law is most draconian. French must be used exclusively in all forms audio or visual broadcasting, with the exception of movies shown in their original language with sub-titles. And God help you if you try to start a business and have any of the banned words in the name of your new company. No person or society, the bill says, can set up a company in France that contains a foreign word or expression, unless they can prove that there is no way of expressing the concept in French.

They are serious about enforcement, too. Police and other agents of the state are authorized to raid business premises and seize offending texts, and the bill threatens heavy fines and imprisonment for anyone attempting to impede these officers in their duty.

With so many being so hostile to English, one can imagine the reaction on the part of the purists to this assault on French sensibilities not to mention their high falutin pretensions about anyone on the planet caring very much about French “values” and their “global vision.” After all, nearly all countries know how to surrender and act like insufferable fools:

Marc Favre d’Echallens of the Association for the Defense of the French Language expressed outrage that a station designed to give a “French vision” of world affairs would contain so little in French.

“After celebrating Trafalgar with the English and making light of our own great victory of Austerlitz, it probably follows that a publicly funded French television channel should end up broadcasting in English,” he said.

“If all we get is a poor man’s version of what is already available, what is the point of doing it at all?”

What does it say about a country that would celebrate their “great victory” at Austerlitz, a battle that brought the Austrians to their knees in slavish homage to one of the greatest tyrants in history, Napoleon Bonaparte?

If French nationalists have to go back in time to 1806 to find justification for their continuing delusions about global leadership, we shouldn’t be holding out much hope that the government will come to its senses about the danger it’s in with regard to radical Islam anytime soon. That’s bad news for the French and for Europe as a whole. After all, if the people who invented “western values” in the first place are more concerned about a “threat” to the purity of their language than the real threat of Islamic radicalism and aren’t willing to defend those values now, who will?


  1. It’s been a long time since French was regarded as the international language of diplomcy and commerce. If France had a strong economy and a broad cultural influence, the French government wouldn’t have to waste it’s time trying to stamp out foreign words.

    That being said, is this any different from efforts by conservatives in the U.S. to make English our official language? The English-only movement is motivated by fears that the U.S. might someday be balkanized into Spanish and English language areas. Given the surge of Muslim immigration into France, enforcing the use of French makes some sense.

    Comment by Jonathan — 3/17/2006 @ 10:23 am

  2. Sorry, I don’t think your analogy washes.

    This is question of targeting usage and definition - not language as a whole. By choosing to ban certain words - not an entire language - the kultural krazies target English and especially, America because most of the banned words are part of American lexicon.

    It would be like us banning the use of the thousands of French words like “restaurant” and “cafe” while coming up with substitutes like “out to dinner places.”

    Comment by Rick Moran — 3/17/2006 @ 10:30 am

  3. And the banning of non-English in government publications can also be a matter of economics — it costs a lot less (in so many ways) to print instructions in English instead of 20 different languages.

    Comment by Ogre — 3/17/2006 @ 11:01 am

  4. France is the perfect example why english only in the US is a good idea. Forcing immigrants to assimilate will prevent situations like the french have with moslem immigrants who fail to integrate and live in isolated conclaves and want to make them independent of the rest of the country.

    Comment by pneumonomus — 3/17/2006 @ 12:40 pm

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