English should be made compulsory for all French schoolchildren, according to an official report which appeared yesterday to howls of outrage from politicians and teaching unions.
Claude Thélot, president of France's Higher Council of School Assessment, said that pupils should learn English automatically, as they do with French and mathematics.
Mr Thélot's findings fly in the face of the views of President Jacques Chirac, who said recently that nothing would be worse for humanity than for it to be limited to one language - by which he meant English. Officials suggested that other views needed to be heard before a decision was taken.
Jacques Myard, an MP from the ruling UMP party, said that English would be displaced as the world's most-spoken language because of growing competition from Spanish and Chinese. "If we must make a language compulsory, it should be Arabic," he said.
Arabic? Spanish I can understand. Chinese . . . well, it's really only useful if you're dealing with China or Taiwan. Distribution counts for a lot more than population, in this case. But Arabic?
It is highly unlikely the world will end up with one language any time this century. For one thing, people who do not deal with the international sector don't use English, even if they have to learn it in school, and so the world's language regions are likely to remain as they are. Additionally, there are some regional languages that displace English in certain circumstances. For example, when Asians of different nationalities meet, they increasingly communicate in Japanese.
There is a theory that the French want to become the mediators between the West and the Arabic world, which could be a very profitable, powerful position to have. I wonder if that's what Myard is thinking.
Or is he just being anti-American?
(Mug tip to The Tanuki Ramble.)
UPDATE: Welcome to everyone visiting from Chrenkoff's! It's good to have you over, and I wish I could offer you all a cup of tea. Instead, I'll offer you a recent post, Zen and the Art of Cultural Suicide. Less warm and friendly, I guess, but tea gunks up the Blogger input forms, and I certainly wouldn't want to offer anyone gunked up tea. Enjoy!
PS Oh, and I guess I will shamelessly link my main page here. What a cad!