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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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12. The Beginnings and the Golden Age of Francophonie among the Romanians

← 336 | 337 → ILEANA MIHAILA


The cultural and literary contribution made to francophonie in the twentieth century by certain writers of Romanian origin who wrote in French has rightly been considered particularly striking and has consequently received much attention.1 However, France’s cultural influence on Romanian civilization, especially from the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, is also a topic that may yield some pleasing finds for researchers. From the late nineteenth century to our own day, it has occasioned many studies, including some, written in French, which have found a readership in France,2 where they have caused some surprise. How, for example, can one explain the appearance of francophonie, or more precisely Francophilia, if not Francomania, among the Romanians, whose history, not to mention ← 337 | 338 → their geographical position, had never had any points of contact with France? And when French political influence on Romanians’ destiny did become significant, especially from the time of the French Revolution of 1848 and the Second Empire (1852–70), it should be considered the effect rather than the cause of their francophonie. French influence would eventually give rise to Romanian writings in French, some of which may be said to belong to Romanian literature but others of which – by French-speaking writers of Romanian origin such as Dora d’Istria, Hélène Vacaresco, Anna de Noailles, Benjamin Fondane, Eugène Ionesco, Emile Cioran and so on – have enriched French literature.

It will be the aim of this chapter to examine the spread and impact of...

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