Re: Emigrant culture change less than parent culture (was: Christianity Redux?)

Date: Wed 27 Apr 2005 - 12:44:20 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: Object lesson in email bloat (Modified by John Wilkins)"

    Cher Jean-Olivier,
      I'm sorry that you interpreted my message as an attack on the French language as spoken in "La belle Province", there was absolutely nothing of that nature in my message.
      I certainly don't deny the fact that we all speak French and I'd even agree that the French language as spoken in France tends to be infiltrated by English words more so than in the province of Quebec.
      With regard to the use of word which are closer to the English language, I wasn't speaking of "Slang". The examples I quoted are using perfectly usual core French language terms, it is just that the choice of words for a same concept/object was different and closer to the word used in English for the equivalent concept/object.

      I agree that there are some nuances between French as spoken in Provence and French spoken in Alsace (I'm not speaking here of local dialects). I don't think however that there are such language differences between regions in France as there are differences between Spoken French in France, in Belgium, in Switzerland and Quebec. A simple example is the way 70 through 99 are says in those differents countries:
      74 in metropolitan French "soixante-quatorze" (actually pretty akward) 74 in Belgian and Swiss French "septante-quatre"
      These memes resist quite strongly the influence of European based TV programs.
      I do travel rather frequently in Belgium and in Quebec, and without attributing any value judgement there are some occasions when we have significant variations in some basic terms that can cause misunderstandings.
      I find these differences quite productive and source of mutual enrichment. Some words in Belgian French and / or Canadian French sound more expressive than in the Metropolitan French. Some are coming this side of the Atlantic and become a "dominant meme".
      Note that is also the case between some US English terms and UK English terms too.
      I'll always remember the stare that I got from my US secretary when I ask her "Could I have a rubber please?" I learned then that in US English a rubber was what UK English calls a condom and what I should have asked for was "an erasure"...
      I won't impose examples of the same nature between Canadian French, Belgian French and France French... This just shows that languages evolve. Each with their own environmental constraints. That includes the socio-economical and political pressures that you mentioned in your message, which I don't deny. Memetics must take into account the environmental parameters in the same way as genetic evolution does. The strongest memes survive on the basis of the environmental conditions. Can a law change the environment sufficiently to influence the language memes ? I'm sure it does.
      I like the example of "e-mail" that you give. Like you, I think that
    "Courriel" is a very nice French neologism that should be used more instead of
    "e-mail". But aren't we here seeing memetics at work ? The language meme "e-mail" seems to be evolutionarily stronger than "Courriel". l wish it were not the case, but can we influence memetic evolution in an environment that is so dynamic as the internet space? (This is a genuine question, not a facetious argument.)
      Let me say that I like listening and reading French language, whatever its country of origin. I also love spending time in long discussions with all my French speaking friends, here in France, In Belgium, in Switzerland and in Quebec.
      I'm also glad that circumstances have lead me to learn enough English language to also appreciate that language, be it the American version, the Australian or the UK version (or any other country).
      Yours sincerely.

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