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French in and out of France

Language Policies, Intercultural Antagonisms and Dialogue

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Edited By Kamal Salhi

This book examines policy planning and implementation and language variation in the realm of intercultural communication in France, Europe, the Americas, Australia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The book aims to discern trends in the development of the capacity of Francophone speakers to engage in dialogue across linguistic boundaries. Each study in the volume seeks to evaluate and analyse the antagonistic situations that have resulted from colonial culture and the post-independence hegemonic cultures. These situations are investigated through their expression in the French language and the languages with which it coexists in the countries considered here. The expertise of linguists and language specialists in this volume provides formalist and structural insights and an innovative phenomenology of language and newly available quantitative and qualitative studies of synchronic language. These methodologies are applied to a wide range of subject areas: law, history, literature, politics and society. Taken as a whole the book offers a fresh perspective on the issues surrounding French within and beyond France in the post-colonial and Francophone contexts.

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Kamal Salhi and Hendri Jeanjean - France and her Linguistic Minorities: A Case of 'Domestic Colonialism' in Occitania 137

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KAMAL SALHI AND HENRI JEANJEAN France and her Linguistic Minorities: A Case of 'Domestic Colonialism' in Occitania Linguistic and cultural matters have always been high on the list of priorities for French governments. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppe remarked that 'Ia diplomatie culturelle constitue une dimension essentielle de notre politique etrangere et, d'une certaine fa~on, est Ia marque de sa singularite.' 1 At the 1995 Francophone summit held in Cotonou, Jacques Chirac, the French President asserted that 'Ia langue etant !'expression d'un peuple, il fallait tout faire pour conserver les langues. ' 2 The campaigners who denounce the growing use of English in international forums, on the Internet or in French public life, and organise themselves to defend the French language claim that their actions are motivated by a concern for linguistic pluralism. However, it is necessary to understand these campaigns in their historical context: for centuries French language policies have been framed with the purpose of wiping out minority languages in the country. The current concern about the French language may be seen as a response to the threats that are thought to be posed by two relatively recent political developments: the decentral- isation of France and the creation of the European Union. Both appear to offer opportunities for action to strengthen regional languages and en- courage the resolve of those who, like the Occitanists,3 have been work- ing to keep their culture alive for over a century. The focus in this chapter is on...

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