Writings

Lingua Francas

Thursday, 4 Jan 2018

Again, Michael Skapinker in the FT writing about Marcon's ambitions to make French the lingua franca:

He sees a coming demographic dividend for French. Seventy per cent of Africans are under 30, and the continent’s population growth will be explosive. The number who, for colonial reasons, speak French will balloon.

In colonial times, the French were desperate to impose their language on their empire. As one historian of the French in Africa, quoted in Nkonko Kamwangamalu’s book Language Policy and Economics: The Language Question in Africa, said of France’s colonial policy: “It has always been a cardinal belief of Frenchmen that there is only one valid culture in the world; that it is their duty to lead all men towards it.” In French colonial schools, children learnt French.

As opposed to the British who used language as method of disenfranchisement 😟

The British, for the most part, could not have cared less what language colonial subjects spoke. Educational provision in the British empire was fitful. When imperial civil servants did offer schooling in English, they often concluded that it was a bad idea because it gave the colonised ambitions above their station.

In his book English and the Discourses of Colonialism, Alastair Pennycook recounts an inspector of schools in colonial Malaya saying: “As pupils who acquire a knowledge of English are invariably unwilling to earn their livelihood by manual labour, the immediate result of affording an English education to any large number of Malays would be the creation of a discontented class.”