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The French language

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The French language

Postby DaveH » March 19th, 2017, 3:06 pm

Seems that one member's support for the French isn't necessarily reciprocated http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-39278092
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Re: The French language

Postby Digby » March 19th, 2017, 5:32 pm

Just think, If Napoleon had not been beaten in Russia, and at Trafalgar, French might be the dominant language of the world.

And we would all be naming our children Phillipe or Marc.
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Re: The French language

Postby Digby » March 19th, 2017, 5:34 pm

At my work here in NZ I had a young French guy working in my team.

His father was Algerian and his mother was French his name was Kevin. He was a really good guy. But I always thought it strange that a French guy was called Kevin.
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Re: The French language

Postby jf42 » March 20th, 2017, 8:09 am

Digby wrote:Just think, If Napoleon had not been beaten in Russia, and at Trafalgar, French might be the dominant language of the world.

And we would all be naming our children Phillipe or Marc.


It was already the dominant language among the haute bourgoisie of Europe, having begun to replace Latin as the lingua franca (literally) in the C17th. The Russian upper class communicated in French right up to the revolution.

I wonder if the French had a sufficiently large empire to build on. I am not sure how a Europe under the sway of a Napoleonic France would have changed that. The likelihood of British seapower being checked by the French is not great and the cards were against Napoleon in Russia, but it is hard to imagine the French achieving more than grabbing back the Caribbean 'Sugar Islands' ( with slavery retained?) Wider success in the subsequent 'Grab for Africa'? Perhaps. Re-establishing control of the Suez Isthmus would have been a key strategic aim- with other Mediterranean islands; Malta, Minorca etc.

Looking at it the other way round, it's interesting to envisage the C19th century, and the continuing growth of the British Empire, with the British and French not being (uneasy) allies.

Culturally, the French still give the British bourgeoisie an inferiority complex!
Last edited by jf42 on March 20th, 2017, 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The French language

Postby Josh&Historyland » March 20th, 2017, 11:49 am

I don't think the name Joshua registers much across the channel either.
Had Napoleon won, I don't think much would have changed in terms of language, not in Europe anyway. Back in 1066 the French pulled off an effective coup over here, the language of law and power for a good few centuries became French, but the common cultural language wasn't changed, in fact it was improved. Thr Greeks still speak Greek after over three centuries of Turkish occupation. The erosion of language and custom is usually too hard a project to pull off successfully.
The second languages of former Colonies are a different matter however.

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Re: The French language

Postby Senarmont198 » March 20th, 2017, 5:59 pm

What is interesting about the French language, specifically their military and technical terms, is that they were largely adopted/used by other nations, especially Great Britain and the United States.

It is also interesting to note that the French took the lead in technical education in Europe, namely in artillery and engineers, and their schools were used as models by the British and Austrians, as well as the young United States.

French military manuals were used/translated to be used by other European nations, specifically engineering publications by the British and the new French staff manual in 1800. British engineer officers commented that they had to use foreign, specifically French, engineer publications because they didn't have any of their own, and British Captain Ralph Willett Adye commented around 1800 on the excellence of the French Gribeauval artillery system, and the lack of a coordinated one in their own service.
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Re: The French language

Postby Josh&Historyland » March 21st, 2017, 12:15 am

French was practically the new Latin, as it served as the international language of practically every science and art, and was an almost de facto requisite for any well bred person to know. From 1650 to 1815 French was the language not just of sophistication but professionalism as well. One might postulate that though it would remain an international favourite, it was the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that saw French become unpopular. Certainly no patriotic Russian, Spaniard or Prussian would be heard speaking it after 1800. Blucher famously refused to utter more than a few words of it, even though I believe he could speak it to some degree, General Cuesta could speak it but refused to converse with Wellington in the language and had to use an interpreter, etc.
Then again at the same time, allied military and diplomatic cooperation couldn't have succeeded without the French language.

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Re: The French language

Postby jf42 » March 21st, 2017, 8:45 am

Yet Tolstoy, later in the century, gave the name 'PIerre' to one of his major characters in 'War & Peace.

I believe it might have been Kevin in an earlier draught.
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Re: The French language

Postby Josh&Historyland » March 21st, 2017, 12:21 pm

Indeed ;)

Yet Tolstoy did note in his fiction that salons were soon rejecting the language out of patriotism especially in 1812. Pierre began the book as an admirer of Napoleon, who had travelled was something therefore of a Francophile. He had other versions of his name, which are used by other characters, the Russian version & a nickname I think?

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Re: The French language

Postby jf42 » March 21st, 2017, 8:38 pm

Josh&Historyland wrote:Indeed ;)

Yet Tolstoy did note in his fiction that salons were soon rejecting the language out of patriotism especially in 1812. Pierre began the book as an admirer of Napoleon, who had travelled was something therefore of a Francophile. He had other versions of his name, which are used by other characters, the Russian version & a nickname I think?

Josh.


Well, it's been a while since I read it... a mere- never mind. Unputdownable. The time flew. (Then, I was in plaster...)
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