Graduation Year

2012

Abstract

In a nation that derives so much of its identity from a longstanding cultural heritage, rather than from an economic or political tradition, France finds itself facing an identity crisis. In recent decades, France has been unable to avoid the ever-expanding reach of globalization, and perhaps even more threatening, the grasp of Americanization. Consequently, as English has begun to permeate seemingly every aspect of French society, France's first line of defense against such a cultural intrusion is its language policy. This paper first examines the longstanding history between the creation of a French nation and the promotion of the French language, and then uses this foundation to explore why the recent influence of outside cultures and languages has been framed as a crisis, or a threat to French identity. The paper then addresses the evolution of French language policy throughout history, ending with an evaluation of the most recent and blatantly protectionist laws of the late 20th century. After looking at the current realities of the French linguistic strategy and highlighting its inadequacies, the final sections of the paper examine the different strategies that could lead to a more effective or reasonable language policy in France.

Disciplines

French and Francophone Language and Literature