Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Discovery of France

For those who may have forgotten, today is MOTR's 29th birthday, although I understand from her family and friends that she is still carded when she and the very fortunate DOTR are out for an evening. Happy Birthday, and may your dream soon come true!

You may get to know her better here.

In honor of MOTR's natal day, today is book report day. Our featured book, The Discovery of France by Graham Robb.

I love the French. Their stereotypical surliness and supercilliousness is to be embraced by all freedom loving people. Any culture that refuses to suffer fools willingly is to my mind the bedrock of gracious living.

While I have never been to France,and do not anticipate be going soon, I have had my nose in French related books for the past several weeks. It seems, like most of what we know of history, our own, or anyone else's, most of what we know of French history is mostly wrong.

The Discovery of France, focuses on the unification of France through language. Allegedly, until early in the 20th century only 20% of the population of what we know of as France, spoke French.

Most citizens were unmechanized farmers, whose entire life was spent within 5 miles of home. As in all insular localities, suspicion of outsiders was rampant, and intermarriage amongst few families was rife. To keep outsiders at bay, in each village a local patois developed. Within a region of 50 miles or so, people could understand each other, but few spoke the same language. This was repeated for virtually every 10 square mile area of France. The French language we know was the local patois of Paris, and didn't spread ompletely until near the First World War..

It wasn't until modern communications, and transportation systems were in place that this began to change. There are still more of a varieties of languages in France than cheeses.

I enjoyed it, learn a lot, and hope you do too.



Mom on the Run said...

Merci beaucoup!

Toad said...

êtes bienvenu

Giuseppe said...

Italy's like that too. My mother's parents, from Abruzzi, and my father's dad, from Calabria, often had trouble conversing.

Toad said...

Thank you, I'd been wondering about that.

Also, I'm curious. France, in spite of what I thought I knew was more non religious or pagan rather than Roman. All the Saint named places came after the revolution as the church tacked STE in front of all pagan location names, or worship sites.

i wonder if that isn't true throughout most of Europe.