Society

Franglais: How English Is Ruining The French Of The French

Essay: Purists of the French language have long derided the slipping of English words into daily conversations. But now, even a reasoned observer who acknowledges the importance of English, says it has all gone too far.

Bad cheveux day? (rhian)
Bad cheveux day? (rhian)
Philippe Bertrand

PARIS - Feelings of displacement, vanishing sense of identity, loss of bearings: there's no dearth of reasons to explain the French attraction to extremes -- whether on the right or left -- during the last presidential election. Of course, the economic crisis, unemployment and globalization are the main reasons why many French people feel they are not doing so well. But one could add something else – far less important, indeed perhaps only symbolic, but that has an impact that may be far greater than we can imagine: poor usage of the French language and over-use of English.

From this point of view, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's appointment of a junior minister -- Algerian film director and writer Yamina Benguigui --whose work includes La Francophonie (French-speaking countries) is a sign. But that sign should not be confused with taking up where Maurice Druon (1918 - 2009) left off. Druon was a longstanding member of the Académie Française who became famous for his fight against "franglais' which to the French means the importation of English words into their language.

And it must be said that English is a beautiful language – and incidentally not without French influence dating back to the days of William the Conqueror (1028 - 1087), the first Norman King of England. In its near-universality today, it is the language of development on our planet, particularly as regards matters economic, and it would be wrong to complain about that out of pure chauvinism.

Nor is there any question of reproaching French business leaders for being – more or less, it must be said – bilingual, or even to wag an admonishing finger at French companies like international hypermarket chain Carrefour for presenting an annual report in Paris in English.

What one can question, however, is the over-use of English by companies in their business strategies and marketing in France. There are plenty of examples. Let's start with American movie producers who don't bother to have the titles of their big hits translated. The newly-released feature film "The Avengers' is a case in point. How many people in France, particularly children and adolescents, understand that the superheroes invented by Marvel Comics are out to right wrongs by retaliating? The English word "avenge" may stem from the Old French word avengier but that doesn't ring any bells in modern-day French. "Les Vengeurs' is the name that would do that. So here you have French people talking about avengers without a clue as to the meaning of the word, so it becomes a kind of "magic word" ... or merely a brand.

Je ne sais what?

How about a "margin call"? Even in French, the term appel de marge has many people scratching their heads. So use the English term and you just have that many more who don't understand what you're talking about. Other examples include French TV channel TF1 (re)baptizing itself "MyTF1.fr," or – still with television here – French reality shows called "The Voice," "Star Academy," "Loft Story," and "Masterchef." Here again: the meaning of these titles is far from clear to a typical native French-speaker -- and translating them would have been so easy.

The sum-total of all this can quickly start to seem like some sort of joke -- because there is no area of French life where the phenomenon doesn't make itself felt. Thus does Carrefour provide French cities, towns and villages with a Carrefour Market or a Carrefour City. Its competitor, Auchan, has christened its supermarkets Simply Market. What does that mean to a consumer in the small towns of Lower Normandy? And even if she or he gets it, doesn't it seem a little odd? Why does the Pimkie store in Boulogne-Billancourt stick posters in its windows advertising "Good prices'? Why did the Casino chain of retailers rename its Petit Casino stores Casino Shops? To appear chic..."in"?

It is perfectly understandable that a company doing business all over Europe or around the world would try and stretch their marketing budget by using uniform concepts and language. But what about the general run of local French companies? Wouldn't they be better off sticking to French? A recent survey on spelling published by the French Ministry of National Education indicated that the level of spelling skills among high school students was falling, and that 10 and 11-year olds were making an average of 15 mistakes per dictation as opposed to ten 20 years ago.

But there are other good reasons to worry about the country's increasingly iffy sense of its own language. Could the massive use of English in marketing and communication in France be down to the "Erasmus effect" -- that many of the people working in these areas were schooled in both languages, went to English-language business schools, use English every day at the office?

The result is a kind of "Franglo-Saxon" which has French people talking about "addressing" problems, "delivering" solutions, attending "meetings' and "workshops' and "conf calls' during which "best practices' are presented by means of "slide shows." But it has all brought us to the point where more and more companies are hiring university graduates in French language and literature to edit the written communications their staff is no longer capable of producing correctly.

Read the original article in French.

Photo - rhian

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Running of the Bulls in Tafalla, northern Spain

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здравейте!*

Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.

• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.

• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.

• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.

• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.

Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.

• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$57,789

A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


📣 VERBATIM

"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."


— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.

🕌 🔍 IN OTHER NEWS

Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Are you more Chicago Bulls or running of the bulls? Let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! info@worldcrunch.com info@worldcrunch.com!

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