Monday, July 31, 2017

Arretez! C'est le French Language Police!

She says: "we are criticized for using too many anglicisms in our newspaper."
His response: OK (anglicism) Partons en debriefing (anglicism) pour faire la
check-list (anglicism) des items a updater (anglicism) dan les news (anglicism). 
("Let's have a meeting to make a checklist of words we should update.")

The French are sick of creeping anglicisms and have an entire organization devoted to dealing with this scourge: The Academie Francais. Here is the section of its web site devoted to Neologisms and Anglicisms on the AF web site

You can see why it's such an issue for the French - right across the English Channel (called la Manche by the French) is England and a thousand years of cultural exchange. 

And as if that wasn't bad enough there is the cultural dominance of the USA all over the world, and that means a double-whammy of English for the French.

The English language has no equivalent to L'Academie Francais in part probably because of the de facto dominance of English, and also because the English language has no problem with grabbing words from other languages. 

And then there's the fact that 29% of all English words already come from French and another 29% comes from Latin - and a lot of French comes from Latin. Paul at Langfocus thinks that English is a Germanic-Romance Language hybrid even though English is technically classified as a Germanic language.

The British have something to say about the French Language police:
Ask a French person to get back to you and they are unlikely to do so ASAP. The abbreviation is the latest term to fall foul of the Gallic word police, the Académie Française, which says it is 21st-century rubbish.
The Immortals, as academy members are known, have published a damning condemnation of ASAP in their ongoing campaign to protect what is known as "the language of Molière".
"This abbreviation of as soon as possible, which is far from transparent, seems to accumulate most of the defects of a language that hides its contempt and threatening character under the guise of modern junk," the Académie writes.
"The use of developed French forms would be more relevant and would not feature this unpleasant and restraining nature. It is a safe bet that the urgency of a request would be indicated in a more refined manner, and the answer would not be any slower."
It goes on to suggest dès que possible as the appropriate response.

 But although the English language is a thieving magpie, we certainly have our English-language purists in the US and it might be even worse in Canada in part because French is an official language there.

I feel like the French should relax - no matter how many English words they borrow from us - like we borrowed from them - French will never sound like English - it will always have that certain je ne sais quoi.