It’s very tempting to conclude that the digital media age we’re currently living in is an English language age. It’s easy to think along these lines because, hey, let’s face it, Google is primarily in English. Apple computers which, of course, pioneered the mobile phone revolution is based in a predominantly English-speaking country.
English, regardless of whether you like it or not, is the dominant force in this world and even the Chinese are well aware of this. They’re not putting up a fight. In fact, when you go to China, there are tons, I mean, literally thousands of English language centers. There is such a demand for English language instruction that it really blows the mind due to its scope and scale. We’re talking about possibly hundreds of millions of people looking to learn English.
If you would like to put a face and a name to this phenomenon, you don’t need to look further than one of the richest people on the planet, Jack Ma. Yes, that’s right, that Jack Ma, the guy behind Alibaba, the global Chinese ecommerce store that’s fueling a lot of ecommerce happening in the United States. He actually started out as a volunteer English language tour guide. That’s right. He would take people on tours for absolutely free. In exchange, the tourists who are normally Americans, would inadvertently teach him English. That’s how he learned English.
I paint this picture because that’s what francophones are up against. You don’t see a massive stampede to learn French as the official second language of many parts of the world. That honor is usually reserved for English or increasingly, Mandarin. So, how do francophones make sense of this ever-changing cultural landscape?
Well, it really all boils down to reaffirming local community root. Whether you live in Haiti, certain parts of Africa or Canada or even in Louisiana in the United States, you can play a big role in making sure that the French language in your area at least continues to remain alive, vibrant and engaging.
Do understand that the global francophone movement knows fully well that there are local variations of French all over the world. This is the diversity that makes the French language so rich. So, record all of that, network with people and create groups and clubs so that everybody can pitch in to keep our shared language alive, vibrant and relevant long into the future.
French memes to the rescue
In his book, The Selfish Gene, famed biologist and evolutionary theory champion and secularist Richard Dawkins came up with the idea of memes. Memes are like mental chewing gum that we hang on to regardless of how negative they may be for our survival. We consider memes part of our personal narratives. In fact, many individuals and groups find a lot of comfort in such group labels because they explain as much as they predict. They take the guess work out of group dynamics. Considering the assault on Franchophone identity, it is a good idea to publish more online and offline memes in the French language. You’d be surprised as to how catchy these can be.