World French takes on World English: competing visions of national and international languages

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ABSTRACT: Until the late nineteenth century French was the dominant international language of modern Western Europe, and, with the spread of empire, many other areas around the globe. Now French itself feels threatened by the spread of English. The protection of the French language has both ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ aspects. On the negative, defensive side, purists rail against the specific qualities of English, and the social values these are said to represent. The rejection of English and specifically American influence on the French language is related to the rejection of modernity, and of the nation‐state based on shared political principles rather than shared culture. On the positive, offensive side, international French‐language organizations promote French as the language of francophone brotherhood. This co‐operative effort, however, conflicts with the traditional formulation and role of linguistic norms in French society. With the changing composition of French society, the definition of the nation‐state in France, and the conception of linguistic norms of French, may be in the process of changing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-221
Number of pages13
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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