Friday, May 19, 2006

It's English

I see the Senate has passed a measure which would make English the official language in the US. I guess it was inevitable in today's anti-immigration political climate, but in a way it makes me kind of sad.

In a world of official state songs, flowers, trees and critters of all descriptions, I thought it was cool that the language was allowed to evolve naturally. English survives and thrives because it is peraps the most adaptable, flexible, expressive and precise language on the planet.

What's next? An American Academy of Language determining our usage like the French Academie Francaise? I hope not.

La première mission lui a été conférée dès l’origine par ses statuts. Pour s’en acquitter, l’Académie a travaillé dans le passé à fixer la langue, pour en faire un patrimoine commun à tous les Français et à tous ceux qui pratiquent notre langue.

Aujourd’hui, elle agit pour en maintenir les qualités et en suivre les évolutions nécessaires. Elle en définit le bon usage.Elle le fait en élaborant son dictionnaire qui fixe l’usage de la langue, mais aussi par ses recommandations et par sa participation aux différentes commissions de terminologie

I think this translates* as: our role is to be a bunch of hidebound academics who fix the French language to some point in the past so that it becomes less and less relevant as time goes on.

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* I am very disappointed that the Academie Francaise website doesn't have a little US or UK flag in the corner translating the site into English - the current lingua franca.

2 comments:

jen said...

how terribly sad. the movement to pass a "common language law" is really just an anti-immigrant law, masquerading under the guise of a unifying theme. in reality, the language of the u.s. will be english for a long long time to come. the only people who need to pass this law are those who feel threatened by the very possibilty that it might ever evolve into something else...

Vol-in-Law said...

IMO the best thing that can happen is for English to remain the common language of the USA but to continue to evolve naturally, incorporating Spanish and other words just as it always has done (British English acquired a bunch of Indian words from the Raj, US English acquired German words from immigrants). Immigrants to the USA certainly ought to learn English for their own benefit as much as for the benefit of the existing population. Anyway as an ethnocentrist it's clear to me that as the song says "the English the English the English are best..." and you bally foreigners ought to learn the proper lingo! >;)