Once again, my blog becomes a harbinger for things-to-come. Just weeks after I wondered (in a comment thread) why the French Archives de Guerre (SHD, an official French governmental agency, mind you) didn’t have a French equivalent for “le Wi-Fi” on its website, it turns out there’s been a possible sea-change in official policy towards protecting the French language from foreign infiltration. Those familiar with French culture, and with the history of Cardinal Richelieu’s l’Académie française, know that there’s been a long tradition of keeping the French language French, through legislative means as necessary. Depending on your opinion of French culture, that’s either a good or bad thing. For what it’s worth, English authors like Defoe and Swift failed to convince their own government to set up a comparable English Academy, much to the chagrin of non-native (and more than a few native) English speakers ever since.
It gets a bit more complicated when we include the tendency of French to take a lot of words to say things. Feel fee to point me to some linguistic study, but my wife, a computer programmer, can confirm that she constantly has to lengthen the width of her web form columns when converting a technical English-language form to French (with French translations provided by French speakers). The result, as a New York Times article points out, is that the term “wi-fi” formally translates into “accès sans fil à l’Internet”, which is great unless you want to use more than 113 of a tweet’s 140 characters.
But as the world globalizes, and as computer technology breaks down barriers between countries (see map below), convenience increasingly wins out. As does character count.
Now, apparently, the French establishment is beginning to relax a bit, and bow to the inevitable mishmashing of languages around the world by allowing foreign words into the official vernacular. That, I think, is a good thing.
Numerous news outlets are reporting on the recent comments by the French minister of culture online, some behind paywalls no doubt. Here’s just one.
Adam Cardonnel is well known to Marlburian scholars. As personal secretary to the Duke of Marlborough and de facto Secretary at War, he was the administrative link that kept John Churchill connected to goings-on in the rest of the world. As a part of his office he also kept 9 volumes of letter books (Additional MSS 61394-61401, almost 2,000 folios of condensed script), wherein he copied all the administrative outgoing correspondence on the Duke’s behalf.
He was, in other words, a servant of the Duke, and of the State.
Historians today are fortunate to be able to take advantage of all those copies Cardonnel made for nigh on a decade. But why are we so lucky to have a Cardonnel? If we stop and think for a moment, we quickly realize that every hour Cardonnel spent copying was an hour he couldn’t be doing other things. Thus, even servants of the State have servants, which prompts the business/labor historian in me to ask: how does a servant treat their own servants?
Let’s let Cardonnel tell us his secret to Human Resources management in his own words:
“… [A servant] was telling me the morning I came away that some of the servants grudg’d going into the feild without more wages. If it be so, pray let them have what they ask; but I’le be even with them, for as soon as I come to the camp I’le strip ’em and turn ’em loose, then it’s likely they will be glad to serve me for less.”
(From Alfred Morrison, ed., Collection of Autograph Letters 2:66, to Henry Watkins.)
Move over Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins, we’ve got a new motivational speaker in town.
Bloomsbury Studies in Military History is ramping up. Recent books include:
Here are some recent publications that illustrate pretty well the trends in EMEMHistoriography: mercs, military fiscs and infidels, oh my! Leaven with the occasional campaign history.
For those planning on going to the British Library, it looks like they’ll be allowing photography in the Manuscripts room soon. If I can quote from the personalized email that I received:
Boy I could’ve used that three years ago.