March 25, 2006


Chirac gives use of English tongue lashing (Leigh Thomas, March 25, 2006, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)

French President Jacques Chirac yesterday defended his eyebrow-raising exit from an EU summit session, accusing the French head of Europe's employer union of insulting French pride by daring to speak in English.

Within a few generations French will only survive in American university classes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 25, 2006 8:11 AM

I have a million stories about frogs and their language purity. All infuriating when they happened and hilarious in retrospect. Hint: always assume the frog you're with is fluent in English.

Posted by: erp at March 25, 2006 1:09 PM

Sacre err blue?

Posted by: Genecis at March 25, 2006 2:15 PM

Tous les deux et encore plus!

Posted by: erp at March 25, 2006 4:05 PM

Francaphone zealots in Quebec are the same way (in my limited expereince up there).

Posted by: Dave W at March 25, 2006 5:37 PM

Dave, I've got stories about what French frogs say about Canadian frogs too. Hint: They don't think they are speaking the same language.

Here' a real short one, I was trying to get some information from an officious administrator at McGill University who continued to speak French after I asked her politely to speak English please. My French being rudimentary. Just then one of the French professors who speaks Parisian French with an upper class accent, walked into my office, heard the coversation and said, what, she thinks she is speaking French? She picked up the phone said something in French about Canadian accents and chicken cackling and handed the phone back to me, saying she'll speak English now.


Posted by: erp at March 25, 2006 7:26 PM

France's president Jacques Chirac walked away from the last european council in protest over M.Seilliere talking english.
To be precise, Chirac did not walked away from the European Council because M.Seilliere spoke english (Chirac is fluent in english and has certainly no problem with the language), but because M.Seilliere, who started his speech in french, suddendly turned to english because he said "english is the language for business".
English is no more the language of business than french is the language of poetry, italian the language of arts or spanish the language of flamenco dancing
Any speech can be given in any language; a language is not used according to the content of a speech but according to your audience. In this case, the audience was the european council and as far as I know, the very vast majority of attendants don't have english as their mother tongue. All speeches are translated anyway and english was absolutely not necessary.
M. Chirac was right to point out this anomaly, but wrong to walk out, he should have said to the audience "Et maintenant, mesdames et messieurs, we are going to hear M.Seilliere speech". That would have had much more impact... Anyway, the wrong thing to do would have been to do nothing.

Posted by: Patrick EMIN at March 26, 2006 6:05 AM

Business, like government and religion, is run on the Anglo-American model. Its language is, indeed, English. He walked out because he's the petty little leader of a dying country that's been wrong since 1789.

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2006 7:27 AM


English is the language of business, because that's what is used most commonly. You are certainly correct that there's no intrinsic reason for that, but yet the fact of its use remains. Note that it is not the English speakers who fetishize their languague and I think the speaker was making the point that it's bad for business to put language snobbery above communicating.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 26, 2006 12:08 PM