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Archive for May 15th, 2007

As a follow on to posts about the recent elections here in Seychelles, I came across this article from August, right after the presidential election, from an angle that is SO typical of the French perspective.

Yes, the election observers were happy enough with the above-boardness of the polling and found nothing to criticize in the way the voting was held … blah, blah, blah … but the French who’d been sent to watch the proceedings were totally pissed off by the fact that the French language, “had been under-utilized in both the campaign and polling”.

The call was made in a statement by the representatives of the 53-nation bloc that gave a positive assessment of the polls but did not elaborate on how much French was used in the campaign or by electoral officials.

Can we guess that a big deal was not made in the general statement because only five of the observers were French and no one else could give a flying escargot how much French was used?

And why should they? The ballots are nothing but names next to photos, so where does language come into the process anyway?

A bit here about the names … we had some good ones, as usual for Seychelles, running for office … Waven William was my personal favorite, with Elise Channel Somebody, a man, a close second. My district’s winner’s first name is Wilby, which had me wondering if he has a brother called Wontby.

Complaining about, ” … anecdotal evidence suggesting that most speeches at rallies, printed campaign posters and election material were almost entirely in Creole with a smattering of English … ” is nothing more than a classic case of les raisins sont trop verts.

People here don’t like to speak French. They speak Creole, and when they run out of words … it being a word-poor tongue with few shades of gray … they like English. They like English films and English music.

Most Seychellois CAN speak French, they simply most often choose not to, a fact that annoys the French to no end.

The French, you see, have never been able to come to terms with the reality that has for the last hundred years or so, and increasingly, seen their language fade as English beomes the … shall I say it? … lingua franca of the global community.

They’re not giving up, though. Through a network of “La Francophonie” cells world-wide, they keep plugging away at stuffing French, if not down throats, then certainly at least into the mouths of as many people as they can as often as they’re allowed.

Not only are there Francophonie centers in former colonies like Seychelles, there’s even one in Sacramento, so they’re pretty darned pervasive, and all are determined to defend and protect the French language against the onslaught of English, no matter what.

Running under a motto that translates to “equality, complementarity, and solidarity”… a damned good example of why the language is losing favor … the modern version of Francophonie started in 1970 as a small club of Northern French-speaking countries. They’ve thrown their net wide, however, and now include … somewhat desperately, if you ask me … nations like Lithuania where 1% of the population can speak French and Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony that just happens to be surrounded by French-speaking countries.

So determined are the French to convince former colonies that moving along to a language their people prefer is not a good idea, their Embassy supports one of the three private schools here in Seychelles, the all French-speaking French School. The Brits certainly aren’t pushing their language to that extent, if at all; they don’t have to, as cultural popularity does it for them.

I used to do a radio show here on the only FM station in the country … Paradise FM … and had two standing rules on my show: nothing by Cher, and no French rap. In my book, or on my show, there’s no reason for either.

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