Re: [langue-fr] L'anglais est-il une langue universelle ?

From: Alain LaBonté  (
Date: Sun Dec 31 2000 - 11:53:49 EST

À 05:40 2000-12-31 -0800, Darya Said-Akbari a écrit:
>Hello Alain,
>after your explanation I dont know what we should discuss now. Did you
>expect such a reaction from all the friends in this list? They all like to
>tell their experiences to each
>other. And once you read them you can find a lot of interesting stories.
>Stories that I have read in english.
>Now think there would be one guy from Iran and this guy would say that not
>english or french but farsi should be the real universal language. Think
>that farsi is spoken in Iran,
>Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, ... . What would be the difference
>for you. I think it would make a big difference for you.

[Alain] The idea was to say that there is no such thing as a universal
language, I believe.

>Let me say this to you, it is english because the past made it this way.
>It could be also mongolian. What we have now is the result of our human
>being history on this planet. And
>as a side effect the world simplest language has been established.

[Alain] This seems to be debatable. Here is what sent me a person of
Slavic origin on this list (as he sent this to me privately I don't uncover
his name, unless he wants to do so) :

>Now there is a point that most people seem to be overlooking in the
>discussion - i.e. that English is objectively a difficult and highly
>impractical language. To give you an example, in my Institute, which is a
>scientific entreprise and in which knowledge of foreign languages is
>essential - out of 20 persons with academic titles and working as
>researchers some 15 have English and often only English as their foreign
>language, some 5-6 have German, 4-5 have French, 3-4 have Russian and 1 has
>Italian (this is my case, I cover Italian, English, Russian and to a degree
>French). [...]
>However, the major point is the following - although 15 of 20 have English
>as a foreign language - ONLY 2-3 are able to function in English on ALL
>levels, i.e. comprehension, reading, speaking and writing - however, almost
>all the 15 have studied English for ten years or more. In the case of
>German, 4-5 of the 6 function on all levels, and in the case of French o[r]
>Russian all levels are represented, for the most part. However, when one
>looks at the number of years spent in learning the languages, as I said
>English was studied for over 10 years with catastrophic results, French,
>German and Italian usually for 5 to 10 years with much better results, and
>Russian usually only for 2-5 years, with excellent results (although this is
>also due to the fact that Russian, as a Slavic language, [...]

>In a way that is good for all english native speaking people. But that is
>not important. And do you know why?
>Let me explain it to you. You can even speak the same language with your
>own countrymen and its possible that you really dont understand them.
>So, it is not important what you say, but it is important what you mean.
>The 'what you say' is our language (take english, french, ...), but the
>'what you mean' is our brain our
>soul our conversation our behaviour our stories and lots more. So the
>language is only a simple tool like a car that you can use or not.

[Alain] I have a dificulty to follow you here. Are you telepath? If so
(sincerely), I would like to know your secret. I am telepath too, but I
unfortunately can't control that gift at all, vene if I have tried for
decades (I am still trying).

>Now give me the answer why english, why french? Why not farsi?

[Alain] I already said this: I do not believe in a universal language. Not
more French than English, not more Farsi than French. If there were to be a
universal language it should be one that is not the mother tongue of
anybody on earth, like esperanto (although this one is definitely biased
toward Indo-Euroepan languages, so I do not preach for it -- although I
learned it, but stopped to use it -- it was elementary anyway -- some years
ago). I said -- in this thread, I think -- that diversity was a law of
nature and I also think that the microsecond there would be a universal
language it would already have begun to divide. It is but normal, nature is
wise in this way.

>By the way, I hope no one in this list has attacked you personally. Dont
>be sad that french is not the universal language, it shares its fate with
>all the other world languages. And
>those will also survive.

[Alain] I have no wish that French becomes the universal language as I do
not believe in that, as I said from the beginning. I am sure that
Venusians, if they exist, do not speak French nor English... (; So
universality would be very much parochial in the universe in this way.

>For me its also interesting to discuss this issue from Quebec out, where
>this territory is neither french nor english but originally from the
>indian tribes in this area. What about their

[Alain] You will say that I exaggerate but the bare truth is that in
Canada, the Amerindians who preserved their language the most are
Amerindians from Québec, *and by far*. In fact the French, when they arived
here in 1534, instead of assimilating the Ameridians, self-assimilated to
them until 1608. It is but when Champlain arrived here that he founded a
French city, the city of Québec, my city, and he immediately made the
Amerindians his allies (he even established the Hurons here, the Hurons
that have been genocided by the Mohawks in their native land around the
Great Lakes in the XVIIth Century -- the other Hurons who ecaped live in
Oklahoma City, perhaps 2000 km from the city of Québec, in the other
direction). All previous attempts failed because the French (who disliked
the feudal system in Europe) prefered the free mode of life of Amerindians.
So when Champlain arrived, his task was easy. All the Frenchmen who had
stayed here spoke Amerindian languages, and some Amerindians already spoke
French. The French never lived in apartheid with the Amerindians, but the
British did. After the Paris treaty (1763) which ended the 7-year war (the
Americans call this war the French and Indian war, it is the same thing)
and gave New France to Britain, the British did establish an apartheid
system, and most problems with the Amerindians come from this (it is a
racist system that teh Canadian government [to distinguish from the Québec
government] is still maintaining, but even the Amerindians hae difficulty
to get out of it as it gives them rights that others don't have -- they are
being paid to saty in reservations, they lose that right if they go outside
even to merely work)... What would have it been if the French would have
stayed -- there was the French Revolution just 26 years later, which
abolished the feudal system -- is just speculation. In other countries
where the French were, there has been native assimilation too, but it was
not due to apartheid, but rather due to education, possibly repressive (as
it has been represssive in Canada afgainst both the Amerindian languages
and the French language -- even at teh beginning of the XXth Century,
French teaching was prohibited in all Canadian provinces except Québec --
the same for Amerindian languages -- it was even prohibited to speak French
in streets in Manitoba -- Manitoba, from a vast majority of French speakers
at teh end of the XIXth Century, has near to zero today -- maybe not a
physical genocide, but certainly a cultural one).

    This is, as you say, historical. We can not change the past. But Québec
has been amonfg the first governments in the Americas to honourably sign
traeties with the Amerindians for the development of resources (compare the
billions of dolars given to some few thousands of Crees for development of
hydro-electric projects in "New Québec" in 1976 with the simple occupation
of native lands in British Columbia for timber cutting, or the total
annihilation of tne Metis people in the West last Century (btw the Metis
spoke French) by the Royal (yes, British Royal!) Canadian Mounted Police.

    But as you say, this is historical.

> I dont go deeper in this discussion but we should all be relaxed and
> respect each human being in his peaceful manner.

[Alain] I agree.

>Whats better than to get wisdom. Wisdom you
>receive by learning and even by learning a new language. I have great
>respect for people who are willing to learn.
>I wish you and all other a happy new year.

[Alain] Reciprocally,

Alain LaBonté

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