This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Banning English: a rant.

'I want to invite the French to go on strike,' said the French philosopher Michel Serres in an interview with la Depeche du Midi.

(M Serres is a member of the Academie fran├žaise, which aims to keep the French language pure and flourishing, so presumably he was speaking in French. I'm afraid I've only seen this English version, though.)

'Each time that advertising is English,' M Serres went on, 'you don't buy the product, each time a film's title is not translated, you don't go into the cinema.'

Poor M Serres. He must care very much about the purity of the French language. In fact, it looks as though he fears for its very existence.*

But the thing is, if a word is understood and used by French speakers, doesn't that by definition make it French?

And in the swift, thrilling, living thing that is language, won't the creative impulses of many millions of people conjure up something more elegantly fitted for its purpose than the careful cogitations of a committee?

Well, I can't be sure of that. But, gosh, it's worked quite well for many other languages of the world. So I think it's worth a try.

Word To Use Today: advertise. This is an extremely useful word that the English borrowed from the French. Before that it came from the Latin word advertere, to turn one's attention to.

*I've no idea why existences are practically always very existences, but there you go.



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