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Your Vile Language Makes Me Want To Urinate:

The Times reports:

President Chirac stormed out of the first session of a European Union summit dominated by a row over French nationalism because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English....

When [Ernest-Antoine Seillière, the leader of the European business lobby UNICE], who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seillière explained: “I’m going to speak in English because that is the language of business.”

Without saying another word, President Chirac, who lived in the US as a student and speaks fluent English, walked out, followed by his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers, leaving the 24 other European leaders stunned....

The meeting was furnished with full interpretation services, and anyone in the room could speak or listen in any of the 20 official EU languages. Embarrassed French diplomats tried to explain away the walk-out, saying that their ministers all needed a toilet break at the same time.

"President Chirac, who recently denounced British food as the worst in the world after Finnish, has led an increasingly eccentric campaign to try to turn back the growing dominance of English in the EU and across the world." For even more amusing examples, see the whole article.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

Cornellian (mail):
Now I'm willing to cut Mr. Chirac some slack here. Granted it was childish and petulant of him, but the reality is, English is the world language, its usage will continue to increase, while French is in an irreversible decline. That being the case, I think we can afford to be generous here and regard his temper tantrum with amusement rather than anger.

Besides, he does have a point about British food, it really is pretty awful for the most part.
3.24.2006 4:59pm
great unknown (mail):
The one-word reply to such acting-out: Waterloo.
3.24.2006 5:04pm
Bruce:
Arthur: (taken a bit off balance) Well... ah, um... Can we come up and have a look?
Soldier: Of course not! You are English types.
Arthur: Well, what are you then?
Soldier: (Indignant) Ah'm French! Why do you think I have this out-rrrageous accent, you silly king?!
Galahad: What are you doing in *England*?
Soldier: Mind your own business!
...
Galahad: What a strange person.
Arthur: (getting mad) Now look here, my good ma--
Soldier: Ah don' wanna talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food-trough wiper! Ah fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!
Galahad: Is there someone else up there we can talk to?
Soldier: No!! Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!
3.24.2006 5:06pm
Humble Law Student:
Ahh the petty petulance of the French continue to brighten my days.
3.24.2006 5:07pm
Cornellian (mail):
Monty Python > France
3.24.2006 5:08pm
Freddy Hill (mail):
he does have a point about British food, it really is pretty awful for the most part.

Really? I think that their curries are outstanding.

Seriously, though, the French attitude gets a bit tiring even for non-English speakers like myself. Some French get a bit "Talibanish" in their imposition of their language on others. I have been in meetings where more time was spent in arguing about the language of the meeting than in the meeting itself. This is almost never a problem unless (a) one of the participants does not speak English (a very rare occurrence), or (b) one or more of the participants is French.
3.24.2006 5:10pm
GOP Christian (mail) (www):
Behold! The Holy Roman UMPire. :-)
3.24.2006 5:12pm
Cornellian (mail):
he does have a point about British food, it really is pretty awful for the most part.

Really? I think that their curries are outstanding.


Yes, Britain has very good Indian food. It's the British stuff that's awful.
3.24.2006 5:15pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
If speaking English suffices to drive Chirac out of the room, I fear he's going to be hearing a lot of English in the future.
3.24.2006 5:17pm
Bob Loblaw (www):
This part is hilarious:


When President Chirac had a one-to-one dinner last year with President Bush, he insisted on speaking his mother tongue the whole time, even though the US President could understand him only through an interpreter.

At one UN summit where there was no translation, President Chirac pretended not to understand questions in English and demanded that Tony Blair, who speaks French, act as his interpreter.

President Chirac has announced plans to start a French version of CNN to promote culture. He was furious when its managers disclosed that most of the output would be in English because otherwise few would understand it.
3.24.2006 5:21pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I remember a meeting of the Francophone countries in the nineties. Half the delegates need interpreters.
3.24.2006 5:27pm
wavemaker (www):
"Childish and petulant."

Nothing describes the French more succinctly.
3.24.2006 5:57pm
Ray (mail):
Did anyone get John Kerry's reaction?
3.24.2006 6:03pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Chirac has a lot on his mind: France's 10%-15% unemployment rate, tepid economy whose survival depends on subsidies and other borderline legal protectionist policies, negative native French Net Reproduction Rate, unassimilated and rapidly growing Islamic population, and third-rate military Perhaps that explains his petulance.
3.24.2006 6:28pm
CJColucci (mail):
What's wrong with Finnish food?
3.24.2006 6:47pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
Bruce --

Actually, the Frenchman calls Arthur a silly knight, pronounced "kuh-nig-hit." You've got to admit, as great a language as English is, it does have some oddly spelled words.

As for Chirac, the sooner he accepts that the Lingua Franca is no longer the Lingua France, the better off he'll be.
3.24.2006 7:12pm
Enoch:
I think we can afford to be generous here and regard his temper tantrum with amusement rather than anger.

He is such a whining crybaby, he must be a conservative! =D
3.24.2006 7:39pm
Bruce:
Jason, the "kuhniggit" bit was in the part I edited out. I can't help imagining Chirac saying Seilliere's mother was a 'amster.
3.24.2006 7:47pm
herb manners (mail):
Contrast the French with the Italians: The latter's food is arguably as great, the art and architecture better (whilst acknowledging France's achievements), and the coutryside as beautiful.

But the French habitually make fun of those who do not speak their language perfectly; Italians warmly help those who even make an attempt to speak a few words of Italian.

It is no wonder that the French nurture and encourage the arabs and mohammedans (like the Ayatollah Khomenei, who set off this modern jihad): they are both ultra-sensitive to being "dissed" and have been bypassed by world affairs.

In the past, the French could claim supremacy in food and wine--no longer the case.

In the past, French women could indulge themselves with the notion that they were "sexy," but now with every elementary school girl practicing acts that were historically Oh-La-La, what's a Frenchman to do but be spiteful and petulant.
3.24.2006 7:49pm
Glenn W Bowen (mail):
Without saying another word, President Chirac, who lived in the US as a student and speaks fluent English, walked out, followed by his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers

now if only they'd all do it.

Besides, he does have a point about British food, it really is pretty awful for the most part.

well, there's Fish &Chips... annnnd Fish &Chips.

What's wrong with Finnish food?

it's horrible, but this is a natural reaction to the women being so stunning- life is telling you that you can't have everything.

Did anyone get John Kerry's reaction?

BWAAAAAAAAhahahahaaaaaaaaaaa!!!
3.24.2006 8:43pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

well, there's Fish &Chips... annnnd Fish &Chips.

If there is a God, Chirac's afterlife should really be an eternity of eating fish and chips, with Newcastle, served by a pale, toothy girl with a Cockney accent.
3.24.2006 9:25pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Is it possible he's not just obnoxious, but actually deranged? It does happen to people from time to time....

But, yeah, British food... Got a British cookbook for a gift once, and the things it says to do to decent ingredients ought to be a misdemeanor at the very least!
3.24.2006 10:09pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I think the French have never recovered from their surrender to English in the early Nineties. Prior to that it was common in Paris for locals to smirk at foreigners and refuse to speak English.

In the Nineties, signs began appearing in restaurant windows announcing they spoke English, English speaking waiters were assigned to foreigners, and competition for both business and tips tipped the scale.

Now there is no turning back.
3.24.2006 10:22pm
Cornellian (mail):
In the past, French women could indulge themselves with the notion that they were "sexy," but now with every elementary school girl practicing acts that were historically Oh-La-La, what's a Frenchman to do but be spiteful and petulant.

Well once again, to be fair to France, they do have Audrey Tautou and Eva Green, among others. Heck even Anne Parrilaud looks pretty damn good in La Femme Nikita. They run out of sexy women by any means.
3.24.2006 10:30pm
Enoch:
No, they haven't run out of smokin' hot women... no indeed.
3.24.2006 11:00pm
BU2L (mail):
Eva Green is definitely an acquired taste. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's her ears - they are huge.
3.24.2006 11:00pm
Taimyoboi:
This is almost as good as French students rioting because their gov't just passed a law trying to help them acquire jobs after graduation.
3.24.2006 11:01pm
Cornellian (mail):
Eva Green is definitely an acquired taste. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's her ears - they are huge.

She looked pretty damn good in The Dreamers.
3.24.2006 11:34pm
Cynicus Prime (mail) (www):
We should probably give Ernest-Antoine Seillière a Presidential Medal of Freedom for engaging in such clear thinking common sense at an unlikely forum such as the EU.
3.24.2006 11:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Why does Paris have tree-lined streets?

So the German army can march in the shade.
3.24.2006 11:43pm
Cabbage:
Will no one stick up for the French? Oh the humanity!

Shouldn't we at least acknowledge that the French are very sophisticated and Americans are simplistic? Through a frog a bone! =)
3.25.2006 12:10am
Cornellian (mail):
Allow me to correct my earlier egregious oversight in neglecting to mention Julie Delpy of Before Sunrise / Before Sunset fame.
3.25.2006 12:14am
JohnAnnArbor:
Chirac's irritated with English? Well, get ready, because Arabic will be France's official language in a few short decades, the way things are going.
3.25.2006 12:30am
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"Now I'm willing to cut Mr. Chirac some slack here. Granted it was childish and petulant of him, ... I think we can afford to be generous here and regard his temper tantrum with amusement rather than anger."

I am amused. Thank god Kerry is not president, and we can regard France as the third rate, third world country it really is.
3.25.2006 1:31am
TomFromMD (mail):
What about steak and ale pie? Mmmm... Shepherd's pie! ... and Haggis!! I loved the food in the UK - but I doubt I ate outside of a pub or Indian resteraunt.
3.25.2006 6:50am
abb3w:
I've a couple expat Brits in my freinds, and they cheerfully agree that much of English cooking is wretched.

But what does anyone have against Finnish cooking???
3.25.2006 10:58am
Cornellian (mail):
I am amused. Thank god Kerry is not president, and we can regard France as the third rate, third world country it really is.

Electing Kerry would have somehow prevented you from regarding France in this way?

Whatever its other flaws, France has good food, good wine and a solid record of contribution to Western thought (Descartes, Voltaire, Pascal and countless others) that is anything but third rate.
3.25.2006 11:41am
Paul McKaskle (mail):
British food, other than Indian, was pretty bad during most of the 20th century but in the 1980s it began improving markedly, and while things are uneven today, there is a lot of very good British food (though not necessarily in Pubs and low cost restaurants--Pubs are a real mixed bag even today). Indian food remains excellent. And, IMHO, while French food is still generally excellent, I think it has slipped a bit--both in some simple bistros and in some Michelin starred restaurants, the latter because of a [misguided] desire to be exotic. I have spent over two years in Britain over the last four decades and almost as much time in France, so I've been able to make extensive comparisons. I also agree that Italian food at its best can rival French food. German food (surprisingly at least to me) has also improved markedly in the last decade or so. Since I've never been in Finland, so I have nothing to offer on that point.

As to the post, Chirac's walkout was simply infantile!
3.25.2006 1:06pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
I dunno about british food being crappy. The food I ate there was top notch. The food is simple, but definitely miles ahead of American fare in terms of quality. The vegetables, potatoes and meat were all a cut above what I am used to. The beer was also excellent.

French food is clearly better IMO than English food and lot more interesting. They have a better grasp of sauces and seasonings and generally know how to make food that doesnt taste like the thing it was made from.

You will probably not starve in either country.
3.25.2006 3:15pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Ah, the political right ... when various things are going wrong, take potshots at the French or, even better, over-the-top stereotypes of the French.

Chirac is deeply flawed, of course, but he is the Conservative Party's man in France. Personally, I was rooting for Jospin.
3.25.2006 3:32pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Hmmm . . . spent two weeks in Britain a couple of years ago, and ate very well (considering the budget), just not on indigenous fare apart from our old favorite fish &chips joint. Very good Thai food, Ethiopian food, Moroccan food . . . a wonderful Nepalese place in Falmouth (Cornwall) of all places.
3.25.2006 3:48pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
I should have aded that right about when we got there there was a piece (by Richard Morrison IIRC) in the Independent to the effect that British cuisine isn't lousy; they just have the sense to outsource it.
3.25.2006 3:51pm
Adam (mail):
The French will in vain attempt to oppose the imperialistic spread of English, though that does not mean that English should smother everything in its path. Some day the world will wake up to the inefficiency and injustice of the situation and adopt a neutral international language like Esperanto (or something similar).
3.25.2006 4:28pm
markm (mail):
"Whatever its other flaws, France has good food, good wine and a solid record of contribution to Western thought (Descartes, Voltaire, Pascal and countless others) that is anything but third rate." My first reaction to this is, so what have the French accomplished since the 18th Century?

OK, not entirely fair. I can think of some great 19th Century French scientists, and one in the early 20th: Pierre Curie (co-discoverer of radium, with his Polish wife Marie). But it sure looks like the French have been living on past accomplishments since WWI.
3.25.2006 6:36pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
About the time the world wakes up to a need to adopt a neutral international language, there'll be no need, because everyone will already speak English, making it de facto "neutral" and "international". What's Esperanto's chief advantage, that adopting it as an international language equally inconveniences everyone?
3.26.2006 10:14am
Silicon Valley Jim:
From what I understand, Esperanto isn't even really a neutral international language; it's almost entirely Indo-European in structure and perhaps in its word roots, as well.

Changin the subject womewhat,if I had children, my first choice for their second language would be Chinese, both written (the written language, I understand, is the same regardless of dialect) and spoken (Mandarin). French would be well down the list, behind Japanese, Spanish, German, and possibly Korean.
3.26.2006 11:13am
China Law Blog (mail) (www):
In a cruel sort of way, I find it rather interesting watching France fight valiantly against its increasing irrelevance.
3.26.2006 11:51am
Adam (mail):
Brett: It is not at all clear that the entire world will at some point know English perfectly. English is a difficult language (like all national languages), so that even people who have studied it for a long time often speak it imperfectly, and there will always be opposition to using the language of the dominant culture or nation (with the current story as a good example). Esperanto is simple to learn (no grammatical irregularities and reduced stock of vocabulary roots, made possible by relying on compound words), and it is far less likely to arouse opposition to its use in international communication, since it doesn't belong to any one nation or culture. Adopting Esperanto (instead of English) inconveniences the native speakers of English, and is easier in the long run for speakers of other languages. In the short term, of course, because of the widespread use of English, English is more convenient even for non-native English speakers than Esperanto, but there is reason to think that this situation is less than ideal in many ways, and will not necessarily become more entrenched in the future. Also, in many cases learning Esperanto pays off by making other languages easier, so it's a no-lose proposition.

Jim: Esperanto's vocabulary is almost entirely European, and its grammar is chiefly European though with some features that are not found in European languages, but its neutrality is not linguistic, but cultural. (Any conceiveable language will have some kinds of linguistic biases.) Esperanto does not belong to any culture, and everyone who learns it can use it equally, without giving advantage to one cultural or national group, either actually or psychologically.
3.26.2006 2:37pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Valley Jim,

I don't think Chinese is as good of an idea as it sounds. I assume that you are suggesting Chinese because it is spoken by so many people. But China, for all its size, is a fairly self-contained phenomenon - that is, in terms of culture. The easiest language to spread is presumably the one that most people are widely exposed to already.

That language is English. Everywhere I've been in the world, including the middle east, (but notably excluding France), most people speak some English.

They've seen movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck NOrris, and the Chinese-made toys they buy for their kids have English idiocies written on them. Chinese doesn't have this innate, market-driven exportability. Numbers aren't enough.
3.26.2006 5:04pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Mike BUSLO7:

While I can't speak to your experiences in France, I've spent a considerable amount of time there, and lots of French people speak English and are happy to do so. Indeed, when I try to speak French in many parts of Paris, people often answer me in English (making the rational conclusion that their English is likely better than my French). I've also found plenty of English speakers in the French countryside, Provence, etc. The only place I've ever encountered French speakers actually unwilling to speak English is in Quebec.

In contrast, one argument for English-as-universal is based on the combination of America's influence and the somewhat embarassing trait of American's to be uninterested or unable to speak other lanugages competently.

I agree with you re Chinese.
3.27.2006 11:13am
rayabacus:
I go to England once a year for about the last seven years. The food continues to improve as they expand from "traditional" British fare to a more "iinternational" fare. You can actually get a decent salad now, and the "full English Breakfast" is always an enjoyable meal. The old saying was that the British "Butchered their meat twice - once when they killed it and again when they cooked it."

Now if they could just do something about the weather.
3.27.2006 4:14pm