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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Learn French?

When reading Peter Wason talking about French language, I found it shared some similar historical path as Mandarin. The following is from Ideas:

In the eighteenth century, France was "the cultural dictator" of Europe. People looked to France as the model and standard of taste in literature, art, architecture and the ancillary arts that had blossomed and even today occupy a special position: furniture, fashion and cuisine.

French is one of the group of languages which are derived from Latin. Starting around 1549, French language was a self-conscious entity in France's intellectual and national life, in a way that other languages have never been. Throughout the seventeenth century, the language was refined and developed and purified.

This rational tidiness helps account for the language's great beauty but also for its comparative dryness and its relatively small vocabulary. Whereas other languages spread naturally, French was - to an extent - an official language, and for this reason even as late as the mid-twentieth century there were two million people in France whose mother tongue was not French (Alsatian, Breton, Provencal, etc.).

French, anyone?