French Plays Defense

PHILLIPE WOJAZER/REUTERS

Nothing would be worse for humanity than to move toward a situation where we speak only one language. — Jacques Chirac, French President

What's the French for "get over it"? Don't bother asking the defenders of France's lovely and beloved language. A decade after the government of Prime Minister Edouard Balladur passed a law requiring the use of French in all government documents, business contracts, restaurant menus and advertisements, the champions of francophonie again have their culottes in a twist over the threat posed by the rampant spread of English. Opposition flared last month over a new proposal to make English instruction compulsory in French schools. Guardians of the language issued a manifesto calling on the E.U. to make French its official judicial language....