bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (monfils RG 09)
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I will try to share something in French later this week in honor of Poetry Month, but there was an article in yesterday's New York Times that I thought some of you might be interested in: Pardon My French: The Globalization of a Language. I didn't find the opening all that compelling (French handwringing over the state of the French language? *yawn*) but it gets more intriguing further in, starting with "French is now spoken mostly by people who aren't French" and, a bit later, "The truth is that the future of the French language is now in Africa." For me, it gets really interesting towards the end, when it discusses several authors who choose to write in French, including Russian-born Andrei Makine, who

recounted the story of how, 20-odd years ago, his first manuscripts, which he wrote in French, were rejected by French publishers because it was presumed that he couldn’t write French well enough as a foreigner.

Then he invented the name of a translator, resubmitted the same works as if they were translations from Russian, and they won awards.

And Yasmina Khadra, an Algerian novelist:

I read poetry in Arabic. I read kids’ books in Arabic. But at 15, after I read Camus in French, I decided to become a novelist in French partly because I wanted to respond to Camus, who had written about an Algeria in which there were no Arabs. I wanted to write in his language to say, I am here, I exist, and also because I love French, although I remain Arab.

My own command of French is not solid or extensive enough to write poetry in it yet (one of my "when I really grow up" dreams), but something I do participate in is proofreading/formatting French, Spanish, and English texts at Distributed Proofreaders, a group that helps prepare public domain texts for Project Gutenberg. Current projects being worked on by DP members also include texts in Spanish, Cebuano, Dutch, Swedish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Esperanto, Neapolitan, and Latin.


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July 2014

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