French, once the language of high culture, kings and queens, and pin-striped diplomats, is drowning in a global tsunami of English usage in commerce, science, education -- and even at the multilingual United Nations.
Recently, the Quebec Board of the French Language sent a letter to a renowned Italian eatery in Montreal informing the owners that they were in violation of the law by daring to use the words 'pasta,' 'polpete' and 'bottiglia' on the menu instead of their French equivalents.
The words that one learns passively in a given language (that is to say, out on the street or simply through repeated and unsought auditory repetition) are often reflective of deeper cultural values and attitudes. In France, more often than not, this attitude is pessimism. Allow me to explain.
When not busy making fun of French people speaking French, I'm devoting considerable energy to making fun of them speaking English. There is no question that this is entirely in an effort to make myself feel better about my own meager French skills, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining.
Multi-tasking is de rigueur these days, so it comes as no surprise that renewable energy expert and conflict resolution specialist Steve Smith has his hands full. His specialty comes from years of practice.