France is turning slowly into a French state.
I don’t know if it is the downturn in the economy or the French political situation (the last election win was the source of the Hollande days), but France appears to be slowly withdrawing into itself. (You may wish to re-visit my ramblings about our time in France in 2008): French Travels 2008
It is nothing new that France has long attempted to preserve the pristine virginity of its language and all things French and in doing so has by law and by social pressure, repulsed the constant attempts at invasion by foreign cultures and languages. Of all the threats faced by the delicate State none is more despised that the insidious threat cunningly directed from every angle by the many foreign bodies that favour the use of the despicable English language.
Recently the French declared they are preparing to tax smartphones, tablets and all other internet-linked devices to help fund the production of French art, films and music. This is a trenchant defence of France’s “exception culturelle” in the digital age and the “Companies that make these tablets must, in a minor way, be made to contribute part of the revenue from their sales to help creators,” said Aurélie Filippetti, Culture Minister.
There are numerous examples of this stealthy retrenchement by the French as they withdraw into their garlic-flavoured shells and erect the barricades against covert invasion. Recently, the Ministry of Culture have started to clamp-down on English “foreignisms” such as:
“Cloud Computing” which must be referred to as informatique en nuage.
“Drop-out” should not be used, instead décrochage is the correct term.
”E-book” is a definite “non” and liseuse should be used instead.
The heinous gaucheness of “Beach Volleyball” or “Beach Football” is to be thwarted and so these terms must now use the correct French word “sable” to try and avert the abrasive ingress of sand.
The shocking spread of English style Binge Drinking is to become somewhat watered down by the calling it Beuverie Express. (I confess that I drink wine because I don’t like to keep things bottled up but I try not to ride the Beuverie Express).
“Carbon offsetting, Carbon compensation, Carbon neutrality” in fact any environmental term involving the word carbon is to be renamed shortly but is proving an issue for the guardians of the French language.
As yet they have been unable to come up with any alternatives but the Ministry of Culture states that “la réflexion est en cours”, meaning they are getting their heads together and will come up with an answer. (Probably after a few more bouts of Beuverie Express). Again they don’t like the expression “Silver Economy” used to depict the economic power held by those of us old enough to remember when Charles de Gaulle was a president (before he became an airport) and who knows, some readers may be old enough to recall when a grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart. Today, this use of language to describe old folks is causing consternation in the Culture Ministry as they tear their croissants apart whilst they ponder an acceptable French alternative. In many way this is all just Dijon-vu and they might as well tear apart Chinese fortune cookies in their search for a meaningful answer. Although this intense effort does indicate things have moved on since the days when France‘s principal occupation was setting off atomic bombs in the South Pacific and acting indignant and surprised when other countries complained. These days France’s principal exports, in order of importance to the economy are; wine, nuclear weapons, perfume, guided missiles, champagne, guns, grenade launchers, land mines, tanks, attack aircraft, miscellaneous armaments and cheese. All of which come only with French instructions and instructional DVD’s featuring French artists auditioning for next year’s Eurovision contest as they move to fight back on the cultural front and show that France alone leads the world in being French.
However, I think it is important that the French encourage the continuity of their languages and customs rather than try to bully their citizens into compliance. It would be a shame if the country were to lose its unique flavour and timbre. Where else would it be considered charmingly normal for it to be legally acceptable to marry a dead person or for it to be illegal to call your pig “Napoleon?” Such idiosyncrasies make France interesting and at times delightful (such as when it is illegal on the Paris Metro to touch a woman’s bottom but legal to touch her breasts).
I think a compromise would be the best way forward, forget the legislation, keep “le Weekend” and allow the rest of the world to consider the place Formi-fucking-dable as the French would say – if they were allowed to.