Monday, January 29, 2007

English vs French

Add another literary volume to the great English-French rivalry. David Pryce-Jones reviews Robert and Isabelle Tombs' That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present. He ends it with a sentiment that has much support on this side of the Atlantic:

In theory, both countries are now members of the European Union, and the old victories and defeats are solely of antiquarian interest. In fact, for the first time in history, France and Germany have teamed up against Britain. This novel combination has driven all national identity underground, to fester more and more resentfully. Surprisingly for contemporary academics, the Tombs couple sense the gathering backlash, and accordingly are surreptitiously Eurosceptic. If the past is any guide, Britain will neutralize and even sink the European Union, thus causing "history's next surprise," in the far-sighted warning of likely upset that closes this book.

In other words, the French will lose yet again. I've written before how I do sympathize to an extent with the French. The past two centuries have not been kind to them, especially compared to their neighbors across the channel. Where they were once considered equals, today they are David and Goliath. The French don't even enjoy the status of number one contender.

To examine the extent of waning French influence on the global stage, I put together a crude spreadsheet comparing the official languages of the United Nations - Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish:

It's easy to see why France, and to a lesser extent Canada, place so much importance on the flailing United Nations. A new world alliance based on current geopolitical power could likely exclude French as an official language, and with it any cultural influence.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In fact, for the first time in history, France and Germany have teamed up against Britain."

What about the Vichy? Won't somebody think of the hardworking collaborators?

On a current note, I wasn't aware of the cultural influence that Canada had. Whining is all over the UN. We HAD influence... about 1955.

2/03/2007 8:19 PM  
Anonymous scot said...

It's not too late for Canada to regain influence, but it will need to re-pledge itself into the 'anglospere.'

2/04/2007 2:21 PM  

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