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The Mother Tongue Debate: Two Lashings


International Readers Report

THE MOTHER TONGUE DEBATE: TWO LASHINGS

I've been really shocked with some of the statements in your Commentary by Stewart Toy, "France: Big Brother and the Mother Tongue" (International Business, May 23). True, his article certainly contains many appropriate comments, especially when related to business. But here is an example of what shocked me: "Paris's linguistic puritanism reveals cultural decadence." This is very close to being just ridiculous. It's very unfortunate that most (certainly not all) of the culture that the U.S. is exporting is indeed quite decadent. What's the benefit, to any culture, of being bombarded with Dallas or Santa Barbara, or with extremely violent films?

I am very pro-American, and I've been working for years for American companies in Europe. What strikes me daily is how many difficulties I face just because most Americans are so arrogant and just can't understand that what fits America is possibly not so good for everyone else.

Jean-Guillaume Gaillard

Bondoufle, France

The parallel made between Big Brother and the proposed law to protect the French language is quite surprising. Like Brave New World, Big Brother's world tries to reduce people's ability

to think freely by simplifying their

language.

Big Brother would, therefore, not support this law, but rather try to dissolve the identity of what is a very accurate language, particularly adapted to diplomatic subtlety, political combat, individual expression, and the challenge of established wisdom.

Yves Dumont

Paris


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