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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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14. French in Ottoman Turkey: ‘The Language of the Afflicted Peoples’?

← 404 | 405 → LAURENT MIGNON


Had it been written by one of the columnists of El Djugeton [The Joker], the Istanbul-based satirical Judeo-Spanish weekly, or by one of the masters of twentieth-century Turkish satire such as Aziz Nesin or Haldun Taner, the following scene might have been amusing. Rather reluctantly the Ministry of Education of the new Republic of Turkey, founded in 1923 with Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk) as its first president, was implementing one of the stipulations of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and granting the three recognized non-Muslim minorities, namely the Armenians, the Greeks and the Jews, the right to be educated in their national language. The state was to provide ‘adequate facilities for ensuring that in the primary schools the instruction shall be given to the children of such Turkish nationals through the medium of their own language’.1 While the establishment of the national languages of the Armenians and Greeks who remained on the territory of the Republic had been relatively straightforward, the case of the Jewish community turned out to be more complex. After much deliberation, the responsible commission in the Ministry of Education reached the conclusion that the national language of the Jews of Turkey was Hebrew. Either Jewish schools were to use Hebrew as the language of education or they would have to implement education in Turkish. Jewish community leaders were flabbergasted, Hebrew being only the liturgical language of the community. Faced with the daunting prospect of education in what was for them a dead language,...

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