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European Francophonie

The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language


Edited By Vladislav Rjéoutski, Gesine Argent and Derek Offord

This volume examines the use of French in European language communities outside France from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The phenomenon of French language usage is explored in a wide variety of communities, namely Bohemian, Dutch, medieval English, German (Prussian), Italian, Piedmontese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. Each chapter offers unique insight into the existence of francophonie in a given language community by providing illustrations of language usage and detailed descriptions of various aspects of it. The volume as a whole explores such sociolinguistic matters as bilingualism and multilingualism, the use of French as a lingua franca and prestige language, language choice and code-switching, variations in language usage depending on class or gender, language attitudes and language education. The sociohistorical and sociocultural matters considered include the association of a variety of language with the court, nobility or some other social group; the function of French as a vehicle for the transmission of foreign cultures; and the role of language in the formation of identity of various kinds (national, social and personal).
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9. Francophonies in Spain



In the eyes of our research group,1 ‘francophonie’ seems a notion that is both foreign and too close to home. This may be because it takes us back to Hispanidad [Spanishness], an idea originally linked to a race, then to a religion, Catholicism, and finally to a political definition which made Spain a ‘unit of universal destiny’ during a dictatorship over the period 1939–76. The two notions, ‘francophonie’ and ‘Hispanidad’, were created in the midst of the decolonization period in order to safeguard commercial or diplomatic links and, as the cause required, cultural links as well among peoples who spoke a common language (Spanish or French) and in the face of the growing influence of anglophone cultures.2

Our mistrust of the conception of francophone countries as countries ‘sharing the use of French and respect for universal values’3 comes from our wariness of a specific vision of people as being associated with a history, a ← 239 | 240 → culture and a language, in this instance French,4 for we know very well how dangerous this ideology can become. The identification of the Castilian language with a national conception, imperial and Catholic, gave rise some decades ago to firing squads and four centuries ago it launched genocides.

At the same time we could welcome new institutional strategies which seek, on the one hand, to promote the defence of French together with other languages, in the name of politically correct linguistic diversity, rather than in opposition to them...

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