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Tag: Language

Le Pouvoir Discret or Le Soft Power? How French Is Fighting Back Against Globish

It should have been a celebration of French language and literature; instead it kindled a controversy. Last month’s national book fair, Livre Paris, was rocked by the organizers’ decision to highlight la littérature “Young Adult” (rather than jeune adulte) through a series of equally ill-named events. Say hello to la Bookroom, le Photobooth, le Bookquizz, and even un Brainsto (presumably...

The Art of French Conversation for Dummies

Using tennis matches, good wine that needs time to breathe and English-style gardens, Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau have an impressive arsenal of metaphors when it comes to illustrating the subtleties of French conversation. This couple of journalists from Quebec lived in Paris for four years, and observed the codes that govern verbal interactions between French people during a bus...

Are French Waiters Rude?

Rude, or just French? A waiter in a Vancouver restaurant claims he was fired for having a “more direct and expressive” culture than his North-American coworkers. "The much-maligned and often misunderstood French waiter is an inscrutable breed unto himself,” wrote journalist Cristina Nehring in the Wall Street Journal in 2015. And it appears this view still rings true today. Guillaume...

A Tool to Protect the French Language in Quebec

The Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF) has been fighting to maintain French as the "normal and usual language" in the province of Quebec since 1961. The organization strives to keep out English words and annually updates a dictionary containing three million French terms. France-Amérique talked with the OQLF spokesperson, Jean-Pierre Le Blanc, to find out more. France-Amérique: What...

Does French Music Have a Place in the United States?

While Aznavour and Brel enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame in the U.S.A., musicians who sing in French still struggle to make it big across the Atlantic — unlike those who opt for English. French DJ David Guetta and the Versailles-born rockers from the band Phoenix won their first Grammy Awards for songs with English lyrics in 2010. The number...

Is the French Language Sexist?
Foreign Policy

When it comes to gender in the French language, “the masculine always outweighs the feminine.” For example, if four female basketball players (joueuses) were joined by a male player, the group would become five joueurs. Does this mean the French language contributes to gender inequality? It does according to 314 French intellectuals, who signed a manifesto questioning this grammatical gender...

The Musical Revival of Cajun French

Cajun French was forbidden in Louisiana until 1964. This dialect is a blend of French, English, Spanish and Caribbean influences, and is now being revived through the music of the Lost Bayou Ramblers. The band’s singer and violinist, Louis Michot, talked to us about his commitment to save Louisiana’s Cajun culture. France-Amérique: How did Cajun French arrive in Louisiana? Louis...

French Dialects Fight for Survival in the United States

Integration and the law forced Francophones in the United States to abandon their language in the early 20th century, and language enthusiasts are now fighting for its survival. Paw Paw was a dialect spoken by the first French settlers to colonize the Midwest, and is being kept alive in classes taught by a young American linguist in Missouri. Other French...

The Final Word: Confetti

A linguist, lexicologist and creator of the Petit Robert dictionaries, the eminent specialist of the French language, Alain Rey, dissects a word that rhymes with end-of-the-year party: confetti. The enormous number of Italian words adopted by the French language includes the fields of art, music and pasta, but also the joy of the carnival — also an Italian word — with...