Saturday, March 25, 2006

Chirac, French, English... and Joe Canada!

As addendum to our post on Chirac's fierce "defense" of the French language [which he linked to the defense of cultural diversity], I want to say this: the best way to defend the diversity of cultures is to help people be bilingual. The Scandinavians have not become ‘American’ because they speak English, just the same way the Indians have not become Americans when they eat at McDonald’s.

In fact, most people in the world speak two languages and there don't feel threatened. They have not lost their identity. And this is not just the case of India, Belgium and Canada which are officially bilingual, it is the case of most people of the world.

Now, it is true that the word bilingual is ambiguous in its use – here we’re not talking about people knowing two or more languages from birth, but a reasonably effective competence. If the number of people who speak English fluently as their second language is rather low (estimates are about 10% of the world’s population), those who an speak and understand English reasonably competently are more than twice that number. (see source here).

If you think bilingualism is hard or even a myth, well, go to this site. For sake of practicality, a world's lingua franca (i.e. English today like Latin in the old days..) is actually a great thing.

Now in order to show that Chirac is (once again) wrong and that you can keep your distinct cultural identity while speaking the same language (i.e. English), think of the Canadians. Not Quebec, but English-speaking Canada. Just a few minutes into a discussion with a Canadian, you’ll quickly realize that they have little to do with the Americans.

Here’s a great illustration from… a popular Canadian beer commercial from years ago with Joe Canada (see the video here if you can, it’s hilarious):

Hey.

I'm not a lumberjack,

or a fur trader...

and I don't live in an igloo

or eat blubber, or own a dogsled...

and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,

although I'm certain they're really, really nice.

I have a Prime Minister,

not a President.

I speak English and French,

NOT American.

and I pronouce it ABOUT,

NOT A BOOT.

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.

I believe in peace keeping, NOT policing.

DIVERSITY, NOT assimilation,

AND THAT THE BEAVER IS A TRULY PROUD AND NOBLE ANIMAL.

A TOQUE IS A HAT,

A CHESTERFIELD IS A COUCH,

AND IT IS PRONOUCED 'ZED' NOT 'ZEE', 'ZED'!

CANADA IS THE SECOND LARGEST LANDMASS!

THE FIRST NATION OF HOCKEY!

AND THE BEST PART OF NORTH AMERICA!

MY NAME IS JOE!

AND I AM CANADIAN!

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