Talk:Language policy in France

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Suggest moving to Language policy in France Man vyi 19:26, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Severe POV[edit]

This article is severely biased. The supposed paradox between France's exterior and interior policy is anachronic and stems from poor research on the subject of regional languages in all of Europe. The articles contains a series of annecdotes that fail to inform readers of the political issue behind linguistic politics and do little other than mock France for behind stuck with these serious issues and discredit its policy (or lack thereof).

Also, an important fact is that 51 of the 75 minority languages are spoken in the overseas departments and territories. Not to mention this gives the wrong picture about the languages spoken in France itself.

I will have to come back and fix this. -- Mathieugp 13:39, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I second this. This article is, to me, like some kind of prosecution of France. It accumulates anecdotes and factoids outside of their political and historical context. Some effort has been made to bring in some context, but still, the article still sounds severely biased. David.Monniaux 14:27, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

I totally agree with the 2 other comments It seems that there is a misunderstanding of the french adm. The "conseil constitutionnel" who stopped the change that J.Lang wanted did it because it was agains the constitution which is 200 years old which say the french is the only official language in France. Nothing to do with a willingness of reduicing these languages.

The article states 2 links which I will take off

One is more about an old anecdote, The second is wrong about lot of facts including the facts that there ARE indeed bilingual school (French-Breton, Alsatian-French, Flemish-French...). Also the writer of the article stats below that it is easier to learn arab in France than flemish (which is true) and add "It looks as if Paris is more impressed by young Arab arsonists than by good local law-abiding Flemish citizens who are looking for a job"

Hard to say something more racist! Is this a good reference for Wikipedia? Surprising! Phil of Bristol 13:10, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Actually the constitutional provision which states that French is the only official language was the result of an amendment of 1992. It was this 1992 amendment, as interpreted by the Constitutional Council, that was the primary stumbling block to ratification of the European Charter. Man vyi 16:09, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
In this case, I'd like to see proof of that. I really can not see how a constitutional provision of France can be the primary stumbling block to ratification of the European Union's Charter's referendum of 2006!

Beside, I would have thought that the policy of French as the dominant language of France was more XIXth and XXth century! Phil of Bristol 15:44, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

The Charter has nothing to do with the European Union. It's a Council of Europe convention. It was certainly a longstanding policy of the French state that French should be the dominant language, but the constitution of the 5th Republic was only amended (not by referendum) to state that explicitly in 1992. You can read the Constitutional Council's judgement here - it's quite clear that the Council ruled that the Charter was incompatible with the Constitution. A current campaign[1] outlines the situation as they lobby presidential candidates to support Charter ratification and constitutional amendment (Ségo - for, Sarko - broadly against). Man vyi 16:45, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree about the POV problem with this article. No mention is made of efforts to save languages, or for example France's new article 75 in the constitution. See

Hrcolyer (talk) 14:45, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Still the case in Oct 2009. also, an amazing list of statements are made without any proofs, quotations, citations...

Is that really an article for wikipedia???[[Phil of Bristol (talk) 16:44, 26 October 2009 (UTC)]]

Completely Support this article[edit]

It is a fact that French government DOES NOT admit that there are several languages in the territory of France. This is a fact that you can stand or not, but this is an objective TRUTH.Saying France government supports more languages than french or that there's no more language in France than French is simply a LIE.

Support for article (with one reservation)[edit]

I note that the two vehement critics of this article (both of whom appear to be French and/or French speakers) do not identify one single fact (or "factoid", whatever that may be) which is alleged to be false or materially incorrect.

The article strikes a neutral observer as utterly unexceptionable, save for the rather judgmental tone of the first paragraph under the heading 'Opposition to the language policy' (which is at odds with the otherwise factual tone of the rest of the piece). This paragraph should be re-written to remove the inference that France has acted hypocritically. Readers are well able to make any judgments about France's historic attitudes towards minority languages for themselves from the litany of incontrovertible facts set out.

I think that you misunderstand the meaning of the {{NPOV}} tag which is affixed the article. What you allude to (false or materially incorrect facts) results in an accuracy dispute. A "NPOV" dispute is something different. A NPOV dispute, without accuracy dispute, suggests that facts are selectively reported (for instance, in order to support a certain point of view or discard another one), or that partial commentary or comparisons are made.
As an example: if we were to write an article on George W. Bush, we could just say "He went into the Texas National Guard and thus was not sent to Vietnam, and he later abused alcohol.". It would be factually true, but it would also be intensely biased.
I note that there are ample discussion on the opposition to the "language policies" but that, before I added a few sentences here and there, there is no discussion of the rationale of those supporting the current policies. There is, I think, a lot to be said in that respect: whether or not teaching regional languages in school makes sense from an educational point of view, budgetary questions, etc. You just cannot summarize such questions by a few quotes talking of "balkanization".
I note that you are bringing up questions of nationalities or citizenship. If I may say, French people are probably better placed to know about what goes on inside their country. Especially, I realize now that this may have escaped people not knowing about French current politics, it must be stressed that there is a strong political dimension to the questions of regional languages. Generally speaking, the groups pushing for more recognition of regional languages are generally tied to groups pushings for autonomy or independence of certain regions. The language issue, to some extent, is an advertisement vector for them. I won't enter into a discussion of independentist movements, but let us say that the topic is politically loaded. (Similarly, if we are to discuss abortion in the United States, we should also be prudent, because it is a politically loaded topic.) David.Monniaux 07:30, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
"Generally speaking, the groups pushing for more recognition of regional languages are generally tied to groups pushing for autonomy or independence of certain regions." - I've heard this argument a number of times, that people who are promoting cultural/lingual diversity within a country are really just using it as an excuse or an introduction to a full blown independence movement. That's a handy way of dismissing anyone who doesn't want to speak only French, isn't it David? All these people from Alsace and Brittany who want to promote something besides French really just want to secede from France. Obviously we can't let them do that, so the language issue doesn't matter! This is a straw-man, cultural and lingual diversity is perfectly compatible with a united country.
And even if there are some people wanting to promote a minority language and autonomy that doesn't justify denying them a right to their linguistic heritage. In fact, it's probably counter productive, because people who care about their language will be drawn to more extreme groups. If the French government just granted more linguistic independence, then movements for succession would be really isolated and have practically no support.
Finally, because something is politically loaded does not mean it should not be discussed. Being criticized by other nations for your domestic policies can be annoying, but you're frankly going to have to deal with it. Wikipedia is an international forum, if you want to just discuss this topic with other French people who would be more apt to agree with you, then go to your local café. 05:11, 17 September 2007 (UTC)


Just to make sure it is clear, I didn't write that the article suffered from a severe POV so as to suggest the article should be deleted. I don't believe that David.Monniaux wanted the article gone either, but I cannot talk for him.

Regarding the assertion by user Hansoniac that the French government doest not admit that there are several languages on the territory of France, it is false. He can educate himself on that subject by reading this article :

That is not to say that the policies of France regarding the protection of the unique languages on its territory are adequate. Personnally, I think they are far from being adequate, but my opinion does not belong in the article.

Regarding the assertion by user FelixV that "the two vehement critics of this article (both of whom appear to be French and/or French speakers) do not identify one single fact (or "factoid", whatever that may be) which is alleged to be false or materially incorrect." it is entirely correct. I admit that I did not state precisely what was wrong with the article. I guess I assumed that it was obvious. This is was false assumption.

It must be pointed out first of all that my comment in this talk page was added on December 23, 2004. I was commenting the article of the time. Since then, it has been almost completely rewritten by users Man vyi and David.Monniaux (see the page's history). At the present, the article is significantly better and, although it still contains elements of POV (such as the paragraph which tries to put under a bad light France's priority on the protection of global linguistic cultural diversity over the protection of its own regional diversity). You will certainly not see me defend France's lack of efforts to protect Breton, Corsican, Basque, Catalan etc. but the way it is written in the article is still non-neutral. -- Mathieugp 02:13, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité[edit]

I'm a French student and I want to say that even with all the effort France puts into promoting French, the language still isn't much appreciated, and this shows that something has gone wrong. Let's not say how hard it is for French to survive in this anglicised world, or how proud one should be to speak French. The beauty of a language depends on the people who use it. Governments suppress regional languages causing them to decline, and the unfriendly faces that most tourists encountered make an impression of close-minded insecurity. The ironic fact is that it is only French people who can ruin people's desire to learn the language.

I'm going to argue against that opinion stated above. French is one of the most beautiful, neat and organized languages ever. My native tongue is English, I speak Hindi, Marathi, Arabic, and French. I must say that French is my favorite because:

  1. It is much more organized than most languages (example: English which suffers from serious disorganization)
  2. It has clear pronunciation rules and it's pronunciation is first-class and as the Merovingian said, "it's like wiping your arse with silk"
  3. It is used by millions of people and it has lots of rich literature (on everything from meditations on metaphysical philosophy to trashy fiction).
  4. It is independent and does not get affected by other languages much, and still has the largest vocabulary after English (which gets screwed up by foreign influence all the time).
Screwed up by foreign influence? What the hell are you talking about? French is just bad Latin. 10:33, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

A review[edit]

I'm a college student in a French history class, and our assignment was to review a Wikipedia article and post it to the discussion page.

When I found this article about French language policy, the first thing I noticed was the logo at the top of the page, declaring that “the neutrality of this article is disputed.” Thus anticipating intense bias worthy of discussion, I was disappointed upon reading the currently posted text and finding no immediately obvious prejudice. Later, I read the Talk Page and realized that while the original document may have inspired debate and criticism, it had since been edited by several others in the almost two years it had been featured on Wikipedia. Although this is one of the advantages of the website, it also makes it harder to find a voice consistent throughout the article.

Although the previously forceful argument is now diluted, I still perceived the remnants of an author trying to persuade readers that France’s language policy regarding endangered regional tongues was sufficient and perhaps even too kind to minorities. For example, the (collective) author uses terms like “commercial failure” and “mere waste of government resources” in reference to a Breton television channel and government intervention. Such subtle tones in diction quietly influence the reader’s view of the question, which is rendered even more one-sided by the section named “The debate about the Council of Europe’s Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.” Under this heading, there is a brief explanation of this attempt to conserve endangered dialects followed by arguments against French ratification. The author cites the worry of losing France’s unity, the irrelevance of both minority languages and French itself, and then quotations from a satirical journal and from Jacques Chirac. Every item listed is in opposition to the acceptance of the Charter, and supports one perspective, but there is no reason given in favor of the signing and passing of the Charter. This is certainly the most convincing and truly argumentative part of the article, as it influences the reader by presenting the “con” side as the only viable option, and even as the only option at all.

On the other end of the spectrum, there seems to be an attempt at reversing that opinion toward the end. In the final segment of the text, entitled “Opposition to the language policy,” someone has added a contrasting viewpoint and does not believe the current course of action to be adequate. Scattered throughout these paragraphs are sentences like, “France has been struggling for two hundred years against cultural and linguistic diversity, denying the very existence of minorities.” This type of statement casts a positive light on the effort to preserve Breton, Catalan, etc., and also cultivates the image of the French government as a conspiracy-ridden, authoritarian state. Despite this particular sentence and an earlier mention of the Fourth Republic’s “policy of repression,” readers do not find enough direct and straightforward claims to be genuinely convinced that regional languages are victims in need of and deserving salvation.

Additionally, the article is not as explicit as it might be. The author jumps to the conclusion that the Académie Française has very little role in this hot topic, and that nothing pertinent occurred in the historical gap between 1539 and the Revolution of the eighteenth century. “He” also neglects to explain the political implications in modern French society and assume that the entire issue can be boiled down to several facts. Furthermore, a certain measure of prior knowledge or extended research is expected. Many allusions and names are thrown out and never fully elucidated; specifically, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Loi Toubon, among others, seem important, but are discussed casually as if they should be common knowledge. Luckily, Wikipedia conveniently links certain names and ideas to their corresponding articles so that I could look up the applicable information, even though it merely increases the amount of reading I have to sift through to understand.

Fortunately, the author of this article seems to have done some research. The References section lists four articles from academic journals. He also consults other publications such as Report on the necessity and means to annihilate the patois and to universalize the use of the French language, a pamphlet by Henri Grégoire from the Revolutionary period, and quotes both the current French president and an article from the satirical journal, Charlie Hebdo. Moreover, there are passages from Anatole de Monzie and Georges Pompidou, and a paragraph of statistics about endangered languages and their speakers. Quantitatively, sources seem satisfactory; however they also seem selective, especially the direct quotations. Also, although the journal articles listed are recent, there is conspicuously little data, etc., from beyond the 1980s. The topic is treated as a closed case settled decades ago and no longer notable. One of the areas where the reader is left wanting more is the contemporary aspect, a problem only underlined by the lack of up to date resources.

How prevalent is this problem in today’s political arena? How is each opposing position linked to political parties, regional identities, and other beliefs? Are there organizations lobbying for the conservation of Flemish, for instance, and how effective are they? In addition to the inquiry about the current state of affairs, I would also love to know about more specifics in the past. There are no individual events or any tangible action mentioned in the history or in the description of the proposed Charter and the whole issue seems incredible vague and remote. These questions reveal the breakdown of Wikipedia articles: while anyone can utilize the website to find general, background information, more often than not, close reading will only inspire more curiosity and warrant further research elsewhere.

In general, the article is cohesive and clear in its writing style, despite a few lapses in suitability (“…newspapers and historical, scientific etc books…[sic],” and “…but most of them are old people.”). For the most part, noteworthy features of the article are double-edged swords: on one hand, it lacks a lot of germane information, but on the other, it is concise and without unnecessary padding; having several contributors helps neutralize a distinct bias and incorporates more detail, but also removes consistency and can cause confusion with accuracy and sources.

Personal opinion[edit]

I feel that France has come a fair way but still has some way to go. In comparison with Spain though France is less decentralised for obvious reasons. The idea though that giving regional languages more rights is encouraging the division of France is really stupid. I think it relates to that mentality where French is the real language and the rest is just really patois which pervaded France for many years (and still does somewhat).Domsta333 (talk) 03:53, 21 April 2010 (UTC)