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LANGUAGE: Chaos--English in France and India



Ron Bracewell comments: "I don't think the progress of English leads `to the intense irritation of France.' Some French may be irritated, the rest of France is happy to respond to "cliquez sur ... " without a second thought. In museums photography may be permitted, but "sans flash." Why should this appear strange? Half our English word count in published text is French, including strange cases like moir, which looks French to us, but the French got it earlier from English (mohair). It's of Arabic origin anyhow (the word, not the stuff).

The fraction of Indians that speak English may be small but there may already be more native speakers of English in India than in the U.S. English was to be demoted in the Indian parliament some time ago but the insistence of Tamil speakers on responding to Hindi by speeches in Tamil emphasized the unfairness of requiring South Indians to learn two foreign languages while Hindi speakers had to learn only one. So English did not get demoted.

One benefit of European polyphony is that with n official languages you create jobs for n(n - 1) different kinds of interpreter."

My comment: An academic, Ian Hilton moves in academic circles. He has a house in the French countryside. When he goes there, he might find out what the common people think, if he can.

As for India, it would be interesting to have comments from Glynn Wood, who spends half of each year in India. And as for interpreters, it's no joke. The European Union already needs n interpreters (n being the mathematical symbol for an indefinite number), and n will increase with the expansion of the EU. It eats up a good part of the EU budget. We are talking about that sacred thing, money.

Ronald Hilton - 9/13/00


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