Society & Culture

Africans Are Changing French — One Joke, Rap and Book at a Time (2)

Agencies – Sudan Events

African countries where French is spoken by more than 10 percent of the population.
According to the New York Times, nearly half of the countries in Africa were at one time French colonies or protectorates, and most of them use French as their official language.
But France has faced growing resentment in recent years in many of these countries for both its colonial legacy and continuing influence.
Some countries have evicted French ambassadors and troops, while others target the French language itself. Some West African novelists write in local languages as an act of artistic resistance.
The ruling junta in Mali has stripped French of its official status, and a similar move is underway in Burkina Faso.
Youth on Yoff Beach in Dakar, Senegal, once a French colony. The youth population in Africa is surging, and by 2060, demographers say, 85 % of French speakers will live on the continent.
The backlash has not gone unnoticed in France, where the evolution of French provokes debate, if not angst, among some intellectuals. President Emmanuel Macron of France said in a 2019 speech: “France must take pride in being essentially one country among others that learns, speaks, writes in French.”
The language laboratory:

In the sprawling Adjamé market in Abidjan, there are thousands of small stalls selling electronics, clothes, counterfeit medicine and food. The market is a perfect laboratory in which to study Nouchi, a slang once crafted by petty criminals, but which has taken over the country in under four decades.
Some former members of Abidjan’s gangs, who helped invent Nouchi, now work as guards patrolling the market’s alleys, where “jassa men” — young hustlers — sell goods to make ends meet. It is here that new expressions are born and die every day.
“They’re going to hit you,” the owner said in French, which alarmed me until they explained that the French verb for “hit,” frapper, had the opposite meaning there: Those jassa men would treat us well — which they did, throwing out dozens of words and expressions unknown to me in a few minutes.
Kadi frantically scribbled down new words on a notepad, saying repeatedly, “One more for the dictionary.”


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