Last October, I wrote about French and the layers of bureaucracy a new word has to face before being officially introduced into the language.

It seems that the status of the French language has become an even bigger issue in France since then, with a debate raging about national identity and language at the forefront.

Groups including Avenir de la langue française (Future of the French language) have called on the government to stop the infiltration of English influenced words, citing a recent poll that apparently showed 80% of French people think their language is crucial to national cohesion.

The debate is so heated that some workers unions have denounced dropping accents on letters (é) at France Telecom as ‘demoralising’ to workers, and the cause of suicides at the company.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose English is rudimentary, pledged to push the use of French during his presidency of Europe in last year. But Marc Favre d’Echallens, Paris head of the group Défense de la Langue Française, said the president was obsessed with making France a bi-lingual country and had not stemmed the falling use of French in the EU.

In 1997, 40 per cent of documents at the European Commission were first written in French, compared to 45 per cent in English. In 2008, the ratio had fallen to 14 per cent French versus 72 per cent English. Last year French was down to 11 per cent.

The groups are demanding a “great national debate” on defending the French language, so that its “planned assassination cannot continue in silence”. (Source: The Telegraph)

If the French could inspire people around the world to protect their own languages, we may not see so many on the endangered and extinct lists.