The Francophone world should vigorously defend the language of Moliere and abandon its "obsession" with the English language, an online appeal declared Tuesday ahead of a major gathering here celebrating French language and culture.
French speakers' alleged fixation on English "constitutes an obsession from another era and another world. It's an impasse that we who share the French language must rid ourselves of as soon as possible," read the exhortation penned by various academics and scholars.
The declaration was signed by dozens of unionists, academics, writers and artists, chiefly from France, Lebanon, Canada, Belgium, Cameroon and Algeria, with more adding their names over the course of the day Tuesday.
The petition came just a few days before the first French Language World Forum in Quebec. It is to be published Wednesday in its entirety in several French-language dailies, including Montreal's Le Devoir, Brussels' Le Soir, Beirut's L'Orient-Le Jour, Dakar's Le Soleil, Yaounde's Mutations and Kinshasa's Le Potentiel.
The authors of the petition called for a "strategy" to reinforce the use of French as well as ties between French-speaking peoples, creating a Francophone world that can "confidently" imagine its future in a multi-polar world.
"Linguistic suppression, dismissal and resignation represents a real threat to the future of our language," the authors wrote.
The statement called for concrete measures like the mandatory publication in French of scientific works that have been produced in francophone countries.
It also calls for a greater number of cultural exchanges involving students, artists and researchers around the French-speaking world.
This "affirmation" of French should not be made "at the expense of English" and other languages, but should "value" the assets of the French language, reads the petition, which is available at www.francophonesdumonde.org.
[Jardin des Tuileries, Paris, via Shutterstock.com]