Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Global Schizophrenia

In a bid to overcome a "handicap" as he puts it, French education minister Xavier Darcos is planning to increase school exposure to English language, which he claims is a "key to success". Ironically, Dodoland could claim yet another achievement as probably the only country in the world where the global lingua franca is receding and French language is flourishing. But who cares? We are more competitive than Chad after all. N'est-ce pas?


Sanjay Jagatsingh said...

One of my buddies asked me 6-7 years ago on visiting Dodoland whether Mauritius was a Dom-Tom. Indeed, did you notice that most of the best-sellers written in English are only available in French in our bookstores? And of course keep on going to the local movie theatres and you will eventually conclude that Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Jackie Chan, Jeremy Irons, George Clooney, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Lopez, etc.. speak "francois" only! Little wonder then that the average English-speaking skills of the average Mauritian is much lower than it ought to have been. And of course, we have not even started to speak about some MPs who are unable to speak one single sentence in good French or English.

Samad Ramoly said...

The underexposure to the global lingua franca is indeed churning out more and more English-proof Mauritians. That is more and more Dodolanders tend to shun everything transmitted through that medium. You can imagine how this situation will keep on gnawing at our competitiveness in the Information Age where the overwhelming amount of knowledge is shared in English language. It is not about bashing French language, it is about embracing realism.

Anonymous said...

I visited Mauritius a few weeks ago after nearly a decade in Europe. I was amazed to see this global tendacy towards the French culture. The local papers give a clear view of the situation. Terms like "Président de la République", "Laïcité", etc. clearly points out that Dodolanders have lost their identity and are desperately seeking one.


Samad Ramoly said...

I find your observation spot on SR.

Samad Ramoly said...

Une dépêche éclairante de AFP:

"L'utilisation de l'anglais (dans le système éducatif) au Rwanda sera désormais obligatoire", a déclaré vendredi Mme Gahakwa, commentant une décision du gouvernement de jeudi.

L'anglais fait partie des trois langues officielles du pays avec le Français et le Kinyarwanda. De nombreux établissement scolaires au Rwanda dispensent actuellement un enseignement en français et en anglais.

akagugo said...

Well, compare the policies of two local organisations in promoting their language:
- British Council: library closed down since 2010.

- Institut Français de Maurice: pas de frais d'inscription pour les enfants de moins de 6 ans. Accès gratuit à la médiathèque. And a flurry of cultural activities (even those in kreol, therefore, not necessarily 100% French)... (not related, but nice to note: note the little box with hyperlinks on the lower RHS: "l'Europe à Maurice: l'Union Européenne | Le British Council"

There's no mystery as to who's in to win the biggest market share.

SR said...

Thank you Akagugo for your comments.There's absolutely no mystery.Is it not intuitively accepted that Dodoland is slowly but surely emerging as a flagship of French grip? Some reports even remind us that it is probably the only place where French language is outplaying English language.

Now,unless we do not acknowledge English as the de facto global lingua franca, is the onus not on our government to ensure that we continue to surf on that glorious legacy? Most countries, even those without English heritage like France, are now willing to bridge the gap. Unless, as Sanjay puts it, the secret vision is to transform Dodoland into a Pom in the Dom Tom brand of competitiveness!

On another note, why expect the British to promote their interests in in micro spot? They are massive already in countries like China (so bullish to match India's English proficiency). We must not forget that the British Council was preparing to close office here but finally accepted to scale down its operations to meet PM's request in typical begging-pays amis fashion. And with its fading global aura, do not expect the French to show restraint in harnessing unchallenged territories. Especially, with negligible American and Chinese preying.

My point is not about fancying one language over another. It is about pragmatism and leadership failure.

akagugo said...

@ SR:
"It is about pragmatism and leadership failure."
Couldn't agree more with that: PAF!
One thing: if the Chinese have understood that competitiveness goes through mastery of the language that is spoken by most of their potential markets, why haven't we understood that: applying the simple 80/20 rule should have given an indication about where we should be aiming at. Setting up 'speaking unions' that boast about their coterie is merely aiming away from it.

@ SJ:
"to transform Dodoland into a Pom in the Dom Tom brand of competitiveness": PAF! Ena inpé ki pa pou rélévé ar ça! People from Seychelles are to be lauded for having transformed their French-inspired chréaule into a "truer"-sounding one (Mr Serge Clair, comme JCDL, devrait en prendre de la graine). And their way of writing it is much simpler than what some want to impose here...