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Macron launches drive to boost French, 'language of liberty'

News Agencies | Updated on: 21 March 2018, 11:50 IST


French president Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday unveiled his plan to boost French, the 'language of liberty' around the world.

Macron aims to spend hundreds of millions of euros boosting the French language worldwide, in a push to overtake English in Africa, increase the use of French online and teach French to more European officials to loosen the grip of the English language on Brussels, according to The Guardian.

"The situation now is quite paradoxical. English has probably never been as present in Brussels at the time when we are talking about Brexit. This domination is not inevitable. It's up to us to set some rules, to be present, and make French the language with which one has access to a number of opportunities," he said.

French was long dominant at the European Union headquarters in Brussels but English become ubiquitous in European institutions, especially since the eastern European members joined the bloc in 2004.

French is the sixth most spoken language in the world - after Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic.

There are now more French speakers outside France than inside it.

Macron wants to boost the number of people speaking French in the hope of leaping up the global language rankings.

But a cultural row had raged since Macron announced to students in Burkina Faso last year that French could within decades be "the number one language in Africa and maybe even the world" and that it fell to young Africans to defend it.

In recent months, Macron's grand project to expand French sparked criticism among leading French-language writers and intellectuals from Africa. 


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First published: 21 March 2018, 11:50 IST