French, Organizations

March 10, 2013

Skill Level  Advanced

AFFOI, short for Assemblée des francophones fonctionnaires des organisations internationales, seeks to safeguard the linguistic diversity of international organizations.

On its website, AFFOI asserts, “La diversité linguistique, culturelle et conceptuelle est une condition sine qua non du bon fonctionnement des OI et de l’équilibre de l’influence des peuples qu’elles doivent servir.” (Linguistic, cultural, and conceptual diversity is essential to the effective functioning of international organizations and the balance of influence of the populations they are supposed to serve.)

I went to an AFFOI event, conducted entirely in French, on the importance of using French in international organizations, where the default language is often English. Although my French skills were relatively primitive at the time, my understanding of a key theme that day was this: if people are by default communicating with one another in English, the countries whose native language is not English are by definition going to experience a superficial, impoverished representation of their ideas and needs.

The demands of efficiency and the use of English often go hand in hand, it seems.

For the AFFOI Website, You Will Need French!
For the AFFOI Website, You Will Need French!

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