26 March 2004

It's Raining [on the] Frogs

The Perfesser has a "no comment necessary" link on frog-bashing this morning. Far be it from me to object—my surname is courtesy of Ellis Island, not an indication of my ancestry.

In any event, if anything the article understates the problems with the French approach to foreign affairs and the Arab/Muslim world. Ordinarily, one need only say "Algeria" and be done with it. What I find more annoying, though, is the continued assumption that France has a right to dictate policy to other nations, on the ground that during the 17th and 18th centuries diplomats adopted French as the language of diplomacy. For example, not too long ago France threatened to veto any candidate for Secretary-General of the UN who did not speak French. We ended up with an unmitigated disaster. Of course, recognizing irony is not a strength of the French government, and hasn't been since the days of Petain. This is a nation that is so culturally imperialistic that dictionaries must have quasigovernmental approval to ensure that they are not allowing foreign words to encroach on French, but doesn't see anything wrong with French-oriented patois in Africa stemming from France's history of colonization there.

More to the point, they eat snails swimming in so much butter and garlic that one might question whether anyone can tell what they really taste like. But the pretensions of French cookery are for another time.