Anglomaniacs, useful idiots of US imperialism


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From La Fontaine to Hugo via Marivaux, teachers in France and Navarre strive to introduce our dear darlings to the works of our great writers, and that’s fine. On the other hand, they do not provide them with any linguistic culture, which is more regrettable, including geopolitically. Because language, we often forget, is also an instrument of influence of States. Latin of the time of the Roman Empire; Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America; Arabic in the Middle East; French in the Maghreb and West Africa … In history, language and territorial expansion have often gone hand in hand.

This rule today mainly benefits the English, which began to spread to countries far removed from the British Isles as the colonial conquests of England continued. The language of Shakespeare today benefits from the power of the United States, whose imperialism has known three great phrases: first, the conquest of the West; then the annexation of more or less distant territories, such as Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico, before a rupture takes place after the Second World War. Since 1945, in fact, American linguistic imperialism no longer depends on the geographic extension of the United States, but on three other elements: technology, military power and linguistic domination, as historian Daniel Immerwahr emphasizes ( 1). Winston Churchill understood this well. « Controlling the language offers many more advantages than taking provinces or countries to exploit them, » the former British Prime Minister said in substance. Before adding with its well-known meaning of the formula: « The empires of the future will be spiritual ». A precept completed by Donald Lillistone – an Englishman – in an excellent article in the journal Defense of the French language, writing: « Languages ​​shape societies and the privileged status that English currently enjoys is therefore fraught with profound consequences » (2).

« English must become the dominant language »

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The United States is well aware of this, as another scholar, Robert Phillipson, professor in the English department of the United States, spectacularly revealed. Copenhagen Business School (3) in a work simply entitled Linguistic Imperialism (Linguistic Imperialism) published in 1992. It revealed a confidential report drawn up after an Anglo-American conference on the teaching of English held in 1961 in Cambridge. Things were clearly stated there from the opening speech: « English must become the dominant language and replace other languages ​​and their worldviews ». A cultural uniformity which is directly opposed to our European model based on enrichment through plurality, as evidenced by its motto: « United in diversity ».

As harmful as it is, American policy has for it the merit of consistency: any Empire, even spiritual, seeks to defend its interests. Washington knows full well that Disney, Netflix, Apple and the others are the best ways to capture people’s minds and sell their merchandise. The same cannot be said of the European Union which, despite Brexit, is on the contrary busy rolling out the red carpet in front of English, the language of the country which has just left it and the power it claims to compete with. ! The same cannot be said of France either, where a large part of the « elites » believe in the latest chic to multiply Anglicisms, thus playing the role of useful idiots of American imperialism. Joe Biden, Google, Amazon and the rest are not asking for so much.

(1) How to hide an Empire, (How to hide an empire), by Daniel Immerwahr.

(2) The spiritual empire, by Donald Lillistone, Defense of the French language n ° 279

(3) Linguistic Imperialism, by Robert Phillipson, Oxford University Press, 1992.

THIS LETTER IS INTERRUPTED DURING SUMMER. MEETING AT BACK TO SCHOOL.

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