The French and how to avoid stepping on them.

`The French’. There it is. Already with those two words we have conjured a stereotypical image and an attitude in our minds. Unless of course you’re blind, then it’s all black but you can still smell the garlic and hear the piano accordions. (Always the accordions!!)

They’ve been on my mind lately…the French that is, not the accordions, (they’re always there, still it’s more entertaining than Tinnitus). No the French are swimming in my noggin’ because of their cultural war against change. You certainly could never accuse them of having a `Buddhist’ attitude to life. I think I’m getting ahead of myself. Allow me to clarify.

A certain section of French Society want to halt what they see as the destruction of their language and culture by essentially putting into law that nothing will change. The French culture and language will essentially stay as it is. So there.

I confess to not being a Francophile – or for that matter someone with involuntary muscle seizures. I do a good comedy accent, even better when drunk and I learnt only a little beet of French in High School, which was better than nothing considering our teacher spent a lot of time crying in class out of frustration due to students heckling him or throwing his bag out the window – yes, the teacher.

But I do adore the sound of the language and melt in a special way when hearing Audrey Tatou speak it. I’m interested because I’m a big fan of Globalization. I find it an inevitability of modern life and I’m interested in how it impacts on different societies. (I don’t particularly care for the anti-globalisation people. They’re like kiddies who don’t get their own way, `I’ll hold my breath, I’ll kill myself, look I’m holding my breath!!’)

Some countries embrace globalization and look on it as way of bolstering their cultures. I can’t remember which ones off the top of my head but I do remember reading about it in Wired Magazine some time ago. The theory is that because of easy and cheap communication between cultures due to the internet, many cultures, histories and languages will be preserved and celebrated even. There is another argument stating that because of the Internet many cultures and languages will be lost but there’s no logic in that so lets toss it out the window now (where it rests on a pile of others like `Intelligent Design’).

But I’ve been thinking about this lately, (and if you’re French and have an opinion, please don’t be shy), but why?! I just don’t get how they think they can stop language. It befuddles and bemuses me. Their own language is apparently a derivation of Latin and head colds and probably a whole mess of other diseases for all I know. They did get about a bit the French so some words are bound to have exotic origins.

But all languages have some words derived from other languages or are changed from what they originally were etc. Language is a dynamic thingy (in place of a word that fails me). It is a totally futile and infantile exercise to try and freeze it. But they persist. Talk about `control freaks’. Likewise the whole religious adornments issue. To me, this is another example of the extremes of Political Correctness.

In this case, in an effort to keep Government run schools secular (read, bland) and so to not offend anyone, all obvious signs of religious affiliation are to be banned. No crucifixes, headscarves, robes, goats etc are to be displayed. All kiddies must look the same. Now I’m not the biggest fan of organised religion but I do respect that a lot of people are. And good on em. Well done. But this is a case of cutting your nose off to spite your face – (aren’t clichés handy?)

The point is, everyone’s different. I know in school it helps not to be but if you are of a religious persuasion then that’s your choice. If the children reckon that someone’s a bit odd because they wear a cross around their neck or a headscarf, then educate them! Common sense goes out the window with political correctness. Something I loathe and detest with almost as much passion as Beach Combers. Dirty, stinken’ Beach Combers. Oooooh, don’t get me started.

I guess when it comes down to it there are a lot of people who are destination oriented and there are those who enjoy the ride. The destination mob want things as they are, all nice and comfy with no change – move forward by all means, but don’t change anything familiar. `We have an idea in our heads of where we are going and thats what we want.' The others, the mob who enjoy the ride are accepting of life as a journey. Yes, they may have a destination but it’s the ride that’s most important. Eagerly they look forward to whatever adventures life brings them, especially if it brings new swear words they've never heard of before.

Now, back to my chocolate brioche.
Ross Carroll1 Comment