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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

346                 The Loom of Language
statement the personal pronoun may slip between the infinitive and the
auxiliary e g dir-me~as (lu tell me you have = you will tell me),
dar-vos-emos (lit give you we have = we shall give you)
FRENCH
The first Romance language to have a considerable literature was a
dialect of the Midi, i e South of France This Provencal had a flourish-
ing cult of romantic poetry greatly influenced by Moorish culture. Its
modern representatives are hayseed dialects of the same region. Closely
related to it is the vernacular of the Spanish province of Catalonia,,
including its capital, Barcelona
What is now French began as the dialect of the Parisian bourgeoisie.
Owing to the political., cultural, and economic predominance of the
capital, it spread throughout the monarchy, submerged local dialects and
encroached upon Breton, which is a Celac, and Flemish, which is a
Teutonic language It is now the daily speech of half Belgium, and of
substantial minorities in Switzerland and Canada In 1926 a compact
body of 40 million European people habitually used French, 37 millions
in France itself, excluding the bilingual Bretons, Alsatians, and Cor-
sicans, 3 million Belgians and nearly a million Swiss Outside Europe
about three and a half millions in the French (or former French)
dependencies and a million and a half Canadians use it daily. Canadian
French has archaic and dialect peculiarities due to long linguistic
isolation and the influence of early emigrants from Normandy
French has twice enjoyed immense prestige abroad, first during the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries when the victorious Crusaders earned
it to Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Constantinople, Egypt, and Tunis, and
again in the seventeeth and eighteenth Five years before the Revolu-
tion the Royal Academy of Berlin set the following questions as theme
for a prize competition what has made the French language universal,
why does it merit this prerogative, and can we presume that it will
keep it? The winner was a French wit and chauvinist, named Rivarol
RivaroPs answer to the first and second was that French owed its
prestige to its intrinsic ments, that is to say, to the order and construc-
tion of the sentence ("What is not clear is not French. What is not
clear is still English, Italian, Greek, or Latin ")
This is nonsense, as is the plea of some interhnguists, including the
late Havelock Ellis, for revival of French as a world auxiliary. Its
vogue as a medium of diplomacy was partly due to the fact that it
was already a highly standardized language, but far more to a sue-