The Story Of French

I arrived in Paris on a Sunday, registered at The Alliance Française on Monday, and began my first class Wednesday on rue Raspail. In 1966 I was determined to learn the language because I intended to remain in France indefinitely. Sadly, I only made it to the second grade. Failing to find work there, I returned to San Francisco six months later.

The year before I was to visit Paris again I began watching French In Action, from the beginning to the final episode in preparation for the trip I was to make three decades after my initial stay. I wanted to attain at least a basic level of proficiency. But in 1996, each time I asked a question in French I almost always received the answer in English.

The Story of French, by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and his life partner Julie Barlow, St. Martin’s Press, 2006, not only traces the origins and subsequent history of the language but also unveils some startling information about the attitudes and practices of French people. These include the struggle to linguistically unite the French people over time, the current status of the language in a world dominated by English, and the popularity of French in places such as Tel Aviv.

It was a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading and recommend to anyone curious about the language, history, and/or culture of France itself and other parts of the francophone world.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

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