Friday, June 19, 2009

America not Francophone: Ungrateful?

Given that it was France who was instrumental in helping America gain her independence from Britain, why isn’t America Francophone or French speaking?

By: Vanessa Uy

“Pouvez-vous me traduire ceci?” I wonder how many Americans would answer “oui” or “non” when asked? Although this mystery of mysteries has been nagging me ever since I became thoroughly versed on American history, especially about the part of the American War of Independence. But why didn’t America chose to be a French speaking or Francophone nation given that it was France who helped her gain independence from the tyrannical rule of Great Britain?

Although I’m still rifling through our public library about the works of Gore Vidal and James A. Michener whether these notable historians offered any explanation on why America didn’t chose French as her national language after gaining independence from England. Given that English is the “Mother Tongue” of America’s former tyrannical overlords, shouldn’t adopting French – as opposed to English – as America’s official language would have shown a semblance of gratefulness to the French? After all without Marquis De Lafayette urging King Louis XVI to help the American colonies gain their independence from England, Americans will probably never know the joys of getting inebriated and having indigestion every Fourth of July.

Maybe it all boils down to intellectual or linguistic incumbency. After all an overwhelming majority of Anglo-Saxons – i.e. White Europeans – who first settled in America to established a colony after fleeing from their original “Mother Land” after being persecuted for their religious beliefs came from merry old England. Which the last time I checked still speak English.

But it can also be argued that why do Malaysians and Indonesians today don’t choose to speak Dütch. After all it wasn’t that long ago – compared to America – that these two former Dutch colonies gained their independence. The same can be argued in Vietnam. I mean most Francophone Vietnamese are over 60 years of age and the younger generation who chose to learn to speak French are as rare as hen’s teeth.

Though it might be over 200 years too late for America to show their gratitude to France by doing a concerted campaign to become Francophone. The US educational system should at least provide more French language course opportunities. It is the least America can do to make France grateful. After fixing the nation’s ailing economy of course.

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