A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

French: God’s gift to the world

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 17, 2008

This morning at the gym I nearly fell off my elliptical machine at the earthshaking news contained in a rather tame-looking account of a recent lecture at Kaslik’s more-Maronite-than-thou Holy Spirit University.

The lecture was somewhat grandly titled “International Relations and Francophonie Employed for the Dialogue of Civilizations”, which in retrospect I should have taken as a warning – but the article began rather innocently, describing the talk as “focusing on the advantages of being francophone”.

Okay – fair enough. I don’t think of myself as francophone per se, but I do speak French, and I did live in Paris, and I do have a weakness for fresh baguettes … so I’m not un-sympathetic to the cause of francophonie.

The article continued with a further description of the talk, explaining that it “championed the Canadian method of promoting the French language in academic and diplomatic contexts”. The Daily Stars information-provided-on-a- need-to-know-basis-only style of reporting neglected to identify the speaker, but I’m guessing that he/she was Canadian. And as a pretty Frenchy-French speaker, I’m hoping that the “Canadian method” does not also involve promoting the French Canadian accent.

The article next listed some of the eminent audience members, including the university chancellor and “various dignitaries”, including Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon. Again, no hint as to who the speaker might have been, but using my amazing powers of deductive reasoning, I’m still guessing that he/she was Canadian.

Or perhaps it wasn’t one single speaker, but a chorus. Here’s where the lecture took a sudden jump from minorly piquing my interest to making me question both the speaker’s (s’?) sanity and my own:

Members of the International Francophone Organization emphasized that half of the world’s francophone communities are in Africa and argued that knowledge of the French language brings academic, economic and political advantages in terms of curbing terrorism, spreading peace and ending tribalism.

What? All that? So merely by knowing French, I am not only helping the war on terror, but I am also contributing to world peace AND the end of tribalism?

I had absolutely no idea that I do so much good for the world.

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8 Responses to “French: God’s gift to the world”

  1. kheireddine said

    ‘knowledge of the French language brings academic, economic and political advantages in terms of curbing terrorism, spreading peace and ending tribalism.’
    What a that stupid argument! There is a lot of ‘terrorists’ who are fluent in French…

  2. Hello Diamond,

    I am a great fan of your Blog and I look forward each evening to read your latest post.

    I have one question though: What did you mean by “Kaslik’s more-Maronite-than-thou Holy Spirit University”?

    Curious?

  3. Tantalus said

    If we take that half of the world’s francophone communities are in Africa, and we take that “Knowledge of the French language brings academic, economic and political advantages in terms of curbing terrorism, spreading peace and ending tribalism,” then we have a simple conclusion:

    French, as a language, has failed, since Africa isn’t really the model for “economic advantages,” political stability, curbed terrorism, peace (that’s the funniest) or any eminent end to tribalism.

    Maybe it’s time Africans took Spanish lessons. Who knows? Maybe Spanish is the dark continent’s solution to years and years of political, economic and academic strife (not to mention famine and drought and the works)?

    PS: Some people are sensitive (or allergic?) to the word “Maronite”, so be careful how you use it .:)

  4. Kheireddine & Tantalus: I think, or at least I _hope_, that the claims about French were either a misinterpretation by the Daily Star or the product of language confusion. But yes, certainly the idea that French cures all ills is at best historically inaccurate and at worst very “mission civilisatrice”‘y.

    Mr. Harb, welcome and thank you for your question. I may indeed be unfairly calling USEK “holier-than-thou” – I understand that it was indeed founded by the OLM, the Lebanese Maronite Order, and the USEK grads I have met have been pretty aggressive in their espousal of a Maronite identity as the only “true” Lebanese identity.

    Your question made me re-think my assumptions and take a closer look at how USEK describes itself (the English-language version of the university’s website is: http://www.usek.edu.lb/main/framework.asp?pageName=&language=en). The university describes itself as “Christian humanist” and “struggl[ing] against any discrimination” – a good goal for all of us!

  5. kheireddine said

    Reducing the Lebanese identity to the Maronite identity alienated the Muslims & Druzes in Lebanon and is one of the reasons of the Lebanese civil war. A common Lebanese identity is needed to build a strong Lebanese nation.

  6. Diamond,

    Thanks for your reply. While I am not overly sensitive to use of the word “Maronite”, I am, as a Maronite, concerned when generalizations are made about a people, based on a few ‘unfortunate’ experiences.

    Your ‘Fracophonie’ post is hillarious though – I can’t believe (or perhaps I can) that such inferences would be made by an educated someone.

    I look forward to your future posts – Blog On!

  7. Michel said

    Bien chère Diamantée,
    Well, perhaps this un-named source with the ‘Canadian Method’ was from Canada. I wonder from what part of our great country (s)he was from. Remember the ’80s when our peace loving Québécois(es) were blowing up mail boxes and kidnapping or killing dignitaries around the cities of Québec and Montréal. I do not recall that kind of terrorism in the other Provinces, mine being Ontario of course. That is if you omit the ghettoising of our native population on reserves in the far-north…No group has a monopoly on the raising of peace loving doves. I have to giggle when I see or hear these ‘ne’er do well’ know-it-alls come to Lebanon or Cuba or Afghanistan or wherever and purport to bring the “truth”. Give me a f—ing break. Mangez tous de la m—

  8. Kheireddine said

    Michel,

    1) The boobie-trapped mailboxes were in the 60’s, they have killed seven people, and there was only two kidnappings of dignitairies in 1970: a britsh diplomat by the name of James Cross who was released later and Minister Pierre Laporte who got assassinated. What happened in Quebec during that era was nothing compared to what is happening in Lebanon since 1975.

    2)Canada is a modern democracy and has an excellent track in human rights and Quebecers are peaceful people.

    Je te laisse déguster ce que tu nous suggère…

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