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TorgoX (1933)

TorgoX
  sburkeNO@SPAMcpan.org
http://search.cpan.org/~sburke/

"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Friday March 22, 2002
04:49 PM

French undone

[ #3730 ]
Dear Log,

On the jukebox: Princess Superstar, "Do It Like A Robot"

It's interesting to learn the obvious, namely that French has a doubtful future in the EU

I spent years learning French (because why not?), but no-one ever suggested that it would be useful to me diplomatically (altho possibly because I was in LA, where one meeting a French person is literally about as uncommon as meeting a Mongolian). French is extremely useful for academic purposes in historical linguistics, and in various disciplines where one has to read lots of documents or writings from before 1950 or so (art-history, political history, literature, etc); and of course it's a great introduction to the other Romance languages. I'm generally glad that I learned French.

But I always felt that somehow the French government's efforts to promote the French language abroad, somehow came off as very wan and unpleasant, and even embarassing.

It ended up seeming a sort of Daoist parable to me: because as far as I know, the Italian government (in contrast) has no notion that anyone outside Italy should bother to learn Italian; and yet so many people do it for fun (even though Italian is not really any "easier" than French, for English-speakers at least).

To wit:

為學日益, 為道日損.
損之又損, 以至于無 為.
無為而無不為.
取天下常以無事.
及其有事, 不足以取 天下.

(translation here, in canto 48)

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