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France Ready to Admit English Is the New Lingua Franca?

French students struggling with English can soon take intensive English-language classes during vacations. France's education minister Xavier Darcos thinks poor English is a handicap disproportionately bestowed on the nonrich. He said, "Well-off families pay for study sessions abroad, I'm offering them to everyone right here."

This development deviates from France's usual protection of the French language. In 1635, L'Académie française (the French Academy) began conserving what it deems the proper vocabulary, usage, and grammar of the French language. Lately the academy especially tries to stop the Anglicization of the French language — email should be called "courriel" and walkman should be "baladeur."

While the French have a lofty academy to protect their language, American businesses turn to ordinary signs informing customers that "This is America. When ordering speak English." But with a loudening call for second-language fluency in both America and France, these countries' conservative forces may soon have more than one language to protect.


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