France: Parlons, Enfants de la Patrie!

"The French don't care what they do, actually," remarked Bernard Shaw's Professor Higgins, "as long as they pronounce it properly." The jest was of the blunt Anglo-Saxon variety, but it sums up the reverence that every cultivated Frenchman feels toward the language of Voltaire and Racine. Since the war, it has been a matter of grave concern that the international community no longer shares this high regard. Gone are the days when Tolstoy's Russian aristocrats conversed and the Congress of Vienna convened—in French. Today France is waging a discreet campaign to reinstate—or,...

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