Monday, May 23, 2005


Here’s a few good excerpts from an article found in The Economist.

President Jacques Chirac wants to stop this American cultural invasion by setting up a rival French search-engine. The idea was prompted by Google's plan to put online millions of texts from American and British university libraries.

“I have nothing in particular against Google,” Jean-Noël Jeanneney, head of France's Bibliothèque Nationale told L'Express, a magazine. “I simply note that this commercial company is the expression of the American system, in which the law of the market is king.


The plan mirrors another of Mr Chirac's pet projects: a CNN à la française. Over a year ago, stung by the power of English-speaking television news channels in the Iraq war, Mr Chirac promised to set up a French rival by the end of 2004. The project is bogged down by infighting.


France's desire to combat English, on the web or the airwaves, is understandable. Protecting France's tongue from its citizens' inclination to adopt English words is an ancient hobby of the ruling elite. The Académie Française was set up in 1635 to that end. Linguists devise translations of cyber-terms, such as arrosage (spam) or bogue (bug). Laws limit the use of English on TV—“Super Nanny” and “Star Academy” are current pests—and impose translations of English slogans in advertising. Treating the invasion of English as a market failure that must be corrected by the state may look clumsy. In France it is just business as usual.

And, if I may add, it is not only clumsy, it just does not work…. and it makes those decision makers look more ridiculous and out of touch with the reality of today’s world.


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