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NewsBiscuit recently reported that in the wake of Wikileaks revelations, the truth has finally been admitted: "The 'French language' is indeed a one thousand year old hoax. The president of France revealed that what purported to be his native tongue was in fact complete gibberish, admitting the French really speak English, except in the presence of the British."

Here are my comments about this terrible revelation.

It’s a wonder the hoax lasted so long, the deceit was so transparent and so unsophisticated. Take the alleged French word for “table,” for example. It’s simply: “table.” They did not bother to change even a single letter. Or take the supposed French word for “intelligence.” It’s just the regular word “intelligence” pronounced in an affected and effeminate way.

Only once in a while did the French make even a small effort to appear to have their own distinctive language. So, for example, they took the English word “connoisseur” and made it “connaisseur,” turning an "o" into an "a" in the middle of the word to try to trip up the unaware and the naïve. Frequently, they just added an "e" at the end of a normal word in a paltry attempt to appear different. This goes, for example, for the longest word in the alleged French language, “anticonstitutionalisme,” which shows with pathetic clarity that it’s simply pseudo-English.

To be completely fair, the engineers of the hoax of a distinctive French language managed two clever defenses that retarded significantly the unavoidable uncovering of their treachery. I refer here to “irregular verbs” and to so-called “false friends.”

Every young American, or Englishman, or Australian, who was ever forced to learn the French “language” first went through an obligatory period of intimidation. They were all told that they had to master “irregular verbs,” like this: “je vais, j’irai, j’allais, [que] j’aille.” (I go, I will go, I used to go, that I go). They were all told of the three hundred verbs like this that they must master without fail. Naturally, as you would expect, all those young people quickly became discouraged. And, of course, their mass failure only served to reinforce, over time, the myth of a separate French language. The French themselves have never heard of such barbarity. In private, they used words like you and I (“you and me”?).

The second obstacle placed in the paths of students, the so-called “false friends,” was thrown at random into the pseudo-language by the perpetrators. Thus, “deception” means “disappointment,” “entree” means “hors-d’oeuvre,” and the old English word “mercy” was robbed of its final "y" and replaced with an "i." Then they tell you it means only “Thank you” in their pretend-language.

Had we been more observant, we would have uncovered the deception much earlier, noting the curious lack of certain words, in the imaginary French language. Thus, it has no word for “fun” and, on the Internet, it uses “LOL” to mean exactly “LOL.”

We were had. Dommage!




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Comments

Lester Hunt

I'm so glad I studied German, Spanish, and Greek in school instead of this phony "language"!

Fred the Grumbler

As a French native, I am a bit sad that you and Sarkozy revealed the awful truth. We've been making a good living on the back of these naive yankees by teaching them this imaginary French language. The results were always hilarious when they tried to apply the teachings to real life. Nothing puts a smile on a jaded Parisian face like an American trying to ask his way in French. "Bonnjoor, oo ay le McDonald's seel voo play?" in Paris generally gets a smirky reply in English. Except in some suburbs were you get stoned for being the Great Satan, but that's another story.

I read a study showing that diphthongs are uttered naturally by all babies as part of the speech acquisition process. Of course, the French babies are quickly taught to flatten their vowels. E acute is "eh", not "ey". Yet, in English, diphthongs are preserved.

Thus my theory: Once, there was a happy French tribe, in around 4000 Before Baguette. All the adults were grouped around the village's "No smoking" sign enjoying a cigarette, when a Degaullosaurus Rex stumbled upon them and ate them all. The children, left to their own device, never get rid of the diphthongs in their language, and were unable to master the fine art of eating escargots with a fork. Horrified by this lack of table manners, the other Frenchmen drove them to exile in England, where their baby-like pronunciation became the standard English accent.

Jon Harrison

On an equally humorous note, see Jacques Vallee's "Forbidden Science" (North Atlantic Books, 1992), pp. 392-94.

Visitor

Here in Texas, a hors-d'oeuvre is something you try not to step in.

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