3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

May 15, 2001 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on May 15, 2001.

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3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us
 

--oOo--
 

FYI France: la Francophonie -- Vietnam

 

Online French language resources about Vietnam are numerous, and they are interesting from various special points of view. Yes, there are those who simply are interested in Vietnam. But, also, that particular Asian country is a symbol now of at least two more general issues of special interest to people here:

a) Empire -- among the many things shared by the French and US Americans, surely "Vietnam" is one of the most recent, most poignant, and most significant; also,

b) Language Policy -- among the greatest misconceptions ruling today's Internet and Globalization worlds is that which ordains an English - language - only planet going forward. Surely this is as unrealistic a dream, now, as "Vietnam" was a fantasy for the many -- Vietnamese and foreigners -- who became embroiled with each other over there during the last century. Ironically, Asia generally and Vietnam in particular may be shaping up to become the new frontier for the confrontations of the current era as well: this time peaceful, perhaps -- one hopes -- but also nearly as ferocious, no longer now over territory but over language.

Which will it be in the future, in Vietnam and Asia generally and elsewhere, English? or French? or some other choice? The race is not for first place, which doubtless will go to whatever is local: to Vietnamese in Vietnam, as it will to Chinese in China, Bahasa Malaysia in Malaysia, Tagalog in the Philippines, Thai in Thailand. But there is a great contest under way now for second place, and it is by no means clear, or necessary, that English must "win" this.

One excellent example of the increasing number of Francophone "Vietnam online" sites:

Viêt Nam Contact

Bienvenue sur le serveur du Campus Numérique Francophone
de Hanoi

http://www.vn.refer.org/vietn_ct/

[The site offers the following, in French -- and Vietnamese -- and no, I'm not going to try that in US ASCII diacriticals...]

  • Médias

  • Culture

  • Vie Pratique

  • Cooperation

    plus numerous announcements, impressive - sounding "Appels d'offres et propositions", intriguing - sounding "Sources potentielles pour le financement des projets" -- even la Francophonie does not live by language alone... -- and various materials for downloading.

    This online site apparently has a real, physical, presence on the ground in Vietnam: not all do --

    So, French resources on / in Vietnam: a chance to have a look at the old Vietnam dream / nightmare, of both France and the United States, in its newest incarnation -- through both the eyes of the currently - dominant English speaking world but also those of the wannabe - dominant world of la Francophonie.

    It is interesting to see what is offered: would a French "foreign" site be likely to offer more in "culture", I wonder, and a US American site more in "business"? Should such a resource be locally - oriented, primarily, or should "ties to the mother country" take precedence, or should the emphasis be "international" -- or perhaps even "regional", in a case such as this of a country in dynamic / expanding / increasingly self - absorbed "Asia"? How much emphasis to place upon / how much htmlspace to devote to, each language?

    And why only these two particular languages, in this case Vietnamese and French? Turning things around, would a Vietnam - based Website on "France" want to show pages in Breton and Occitan, in addition to French? would one on "Spain" want to show pages in Català and Euskara and Galego in addition to Castellano? one on "Britain", pages in Welsh and Cornish and Scottish (Scotch?)... one on the USA,...

     

    The Vietnamese may opt, ultimately, for Spanish instead, or Hindi -- and stranger things could happen, such as Chinese (not likely) or even, if they strike oil in the Gulf of Tonkin say, Vietnamese itself... But, for now, at least it might be interesting to have a look at how a non - English language -- French -- is turning up in "foreign", i.e. neither French nor English, online situations.

    The French projects in Vietnam may not scale up, ultimately. But there seems no obviously necessary reason why English projects aimed in the "Vietnam" direction should do any better. Language policy is a tricky thing, and famously fickle.

     

    A few facts: (per http://www.odci.gov, speaking of Vietnam...) (Link updated, May 20, 2014: see https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/)

    -- these from a naive and perhaps arrogant US American francophone and sometime - francophile who, as many of the French might have perhaps, and as nearly all US Americans would have during the 1960s, shamefacedly admits that he began a first draft of this piece with the phrase "Vietnam, a small southeast Asian country..." --

    -- the current population of Vietnam per the figures shown above is 79 million souls -- that is considerably more than France's 59 -- and the Vietnamese 1.49% population growth rate is climbing, while that of France is only .38% now and is dropping steadily --

    -- 19th century hubris truly was a remarkable thing, exceeded only by that of the 20th... here's hoping that we all will see things more clearly in the 21st... "English - language - only planet", yeah...

     

    --oOo--

    --hjlm--

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    Last update: May 20, 2014