Identity, Insecurity and Image: France and Language by Dennis E Ager

By Dennis E Ager

This article is set the connection among language and the society that makes use of it. It particularly goals to find what drove and drives the French to pay attention quite a bit on language, on what it truly is that characterises their procedure, and at the factors for the guidelines governments have pursued some time past and current.

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Extra resources for Identity, Insecurity and Image: France and Language

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Indeed, Occitan was withdrawn from some examinations (Caldwell, 1994: 298) and there was very lukewarm support for experiments with bilingual classes in Brittany. < previous page page_32 next page > < previous page page_33 next page > Page 33 After Mitterrand's election and the publication of the Giordan report, a systematic Circular on the teaching of regional languages was published on 21st June 1982 by the Minister of Education, Alain Savary (82-261). This established three new principles: • that the state should be responsible for their teaching; • that the languages should be taught from the kindergarten to University, with the status of a separate discipline; • that teaching should be based on the expressed wish (volontariat)of both teacher and pupils.

But, since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries did not see an instant disappearance of these local languages which continued to be the normal means of communication for the population at large, another consequence of the policy was the increasing power and standing it gave to those in local communities who mastered the Parisian norm (Blanchet, 1992: 60). This elite group could gain easier access to economic, social and political power through their control of the means of communication. Their role, as 'interpreters' between the judicial and political authorities and the mass of the population, conferred on them social leadership of a type which is reflected today in the role of major regional leaders such as the presidents of regional councils, and especially the mayors of Communes, who interpret the will of parliament for the local population.

We propose to investigate the counter-identity that political authorities have invented for the central state. Relations between the centre and periphery, and the role of the regional representatives also merit investigation. < previous page page_41 next page > < previous page page_42 next page > Page 42 Chapter 2 Fear mixed with pride: the myth of the hexagon Three explanations for policies towards regional languages have been advanced at various times and from various perspectives. All seem valid, and we shall explore each of them in this chapter.

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