FROM THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE TO THE LANGUAGE OF CULTURE
Learn a few subtleties, cultural aspects and histories of the language that should be taken into account when translating French.
All Tasks, a translation company specialized in large-scale technical translations, technical standards, technical manuals and technical documentations, maintains a skilled and qualified staff to meet major demands for this language, important mainly because of what it represents in terms of cultural and philosophical influence.
By Bruno Meng
French, in addition to being the most taught foreign language in the world after English, is considered the official language in 26 countries and currently totals over 500 million speakers at a global scale, according to data from the International Francophony Organization. Regarded as a French institution, the language has spread the world on the wings of the dominating impetus of Napoleon, who expanded the frontiers of the tongue throughout all five continents. The language of Racine was the main vehicle to disseminate western culture in the Arab world and Africa, and heavily influenced the culture and formation of Latin American institutions, underscoring its position in Brazil.
Brazilian universities, for example, were formed through the so-called French missions, which molded the character of higher learning in the country and continued the strong influence of French philosophical trends.
Such influence may be noted if one curiosity is observed: the phrase “Order and Progress" on the Brazilian banner alludes to the inscription of the Positivism motto, a trend formed by the ideas of French thinker August Comte. French culture and its tongue had a key role of mediation among the young nations and other more traditional cultures as well.
It was via French translations, for instance, that Brazilians of the 19th century read the classic authors of universal literature such as Goethe, Byron and Schiller.
Such mediation resulted in the gradual replacement of the classic cultures and languages by the study of French, considered as the “universal" language of the beginning of the 19th century, period in which France had reached its apogee of prestige and civilizing role.
It was therefore through French—then mandatory in schools—that Brazilians learned to view the world, acquired their sense of History, and had the opportunity to learn the classics from other countries, including Greeks and Romans. If the French language had the lead role as a means of disseminating culture, in the field of languages per se it does not fall behind.
The first rational organization of a language and its logics, which we now typically know as grammar, was carried out by the French.
The Port-Royal Grammar was, in the 17th century, a pioneer study that would shape the study and documentation of the structure, rules and uses of all modern languages.
Today French continues an influent language thanks to the powerful French economy, the second largest in Europe, and to the policy of disseminating the language endorsed by the French government.
The International Francophony Organization was created as a representative body of the language and works actively in promoting it, holding events and congresses all over the world.
There is even an international Francophony day, celebrated on March 20th.
Additionally, it is important to mention the mythological Paris, the first city in receiving most tourists, bar none, and which contributes to the imagination of beauty, wealth, power and elegance associated to French culture, further raising the status of French as a language.
Universal language, influent language, vehicle language, culture language, many are the facets taken by the French language in the history of the modern world.
Many are the motives for more and more people, year after year, falling under the enchantment of the language and taking up French lessons.