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The Velvet War Charles X. Durand

Professeur Chadoko chadok at chadok.com
Sat Nov 6 14:15:15 EST 1999

"La langue française: atout ou obstacle ?"
Réalisme économique, communication et francophonie au XXIe siècle
by Charles X. Durand

There is no civilization without communication. Whether they are
collective or individual, activities that set man apart from animal
all imply the use of language. Whether one is the worst selfish or
individualistic person, the tie between language and community cannot
be denied. Language is often considered as natural and permanent. That
is why it is often neglected. Nevertheless, from individualistic or
collective view points, the importance of language is overwhelming. As
a matter of fact, in a multiracial society, language is the first
factor of identity that allows people to regroup and to pursue
meaningful tasks in a cooperative way. Language gives us the key to
our history and heritage and the individual cannot help to use it to
articulate his thoughts.

We have known two world wars and a so-called « cold war ». We are now
entering a new stage of conflict that some name the « velvet war ». As
in any other war, its ultimate goal is to neutralize and subdue the
adversary. The subjugated adversary becomes eventually docile,
submissive and exploitable. The attack usually affects culture and the
economy. Every seed of resistance, any catalyst of future reemergence
must be either smoothed over or eliminated. The goal is to be able to
sell the adversary anything, to make him accept any political
decision, to turn him into a faithful and docile ally who will
systematically support the victor's interests and concerns. The
vanquished country becomes a satellite.

The new world order has triggered a general offensive against the
cultures and the economies of the countries which have partially or
totally rejected the actual logic of the merchants. Such countries may
constitute the seeds of the future emergence of distinct societies
which would function according to alternate models and principles.
Those who spearhead the attacks want their opponents to turn into
brainless idiots who will mostly consume images, utopia and material
goods inferior in quality but profitable for those who sell them.
Ideally, the vanquished will not be conscious of his condition.
Generally satisfied, he will not rebel and he will want to perpetuate
the dictatorship disguised in democracy he lives in. The defeated of
the velvet war is to be manipulated and controlled by the ubiquitous
media. For him, there is no alternative to the information sources he
uses and the way he will vote is determined in advance.

The book suggests a linguistic strategy to fight the velvet war. In
fact, language is much more than a mere communication code. Any
specific language can be associated with a particular perception of
reality and consequently supports a specific culture that can act as a
filter or a deflector of external hegemonic behavior. By drawing from
its own culture and spirit, every linguistic group can easily analyze
and dissect all the messages received from an hegemonic power and
correctly interpret them. In this process, every group can neutralize
any hostile intent and even consider retaliation.

Because it is an essential mind tool, the quality of language is of
utmost importance. We hear that our economies, our products, our
media, our industries are all in competition. We forgot too easily
that our languages are in competition, too ! We have to proclaim it
loud and clear. The velvet war has complex ramifications but its
attack on languages leaves a specific signature : impoverished
vocabulary, poor syntax and its consequences : lack of expressiveness,
weakening of critical thinking, erroneous reasoning, general
disorientation, loss of identity, emergence of new fascist movements
and xenophobia...

« The French language : trump card or handicap ? » focuses on the
french language. However, the reader will find in this book studies on
the German and the English languages as well and also on two other non
european languages : chinese and japanese. The reader whose mother
tongue is not French will find a wealth of details that will help him
start reflecting on his own language and appraise its health. The 17
chapters will establish a solid relationship between language and the
velvet war and will give some idea about some of the possible
consequences of a defeat in that type of war. The book will evaluate
the impact of the velvet war on language and will measure it in
tangible economical terms.

« La langue française : atout ou obstacle ? » teaches the reader how
to identify the velvet war, pinpoint its effects and how to prevent
the damages it can cause. The topic could not be more current. 
Almost 100 pages of the book have been devoted to scientific
activities and technical developments and how these relate to the
communication tools they use. These pages will be of great interest to
the foreign engineers, post docs and trainees who are temporary or
permanent north American residents. 

The author :
Charles Durand is a native of southeastern France. He first studies to
become a chemical engineer but switches to computer science in the mid
seventies. He emigrates to Canada in 1972 to do his graduate studies
and he comes back to France in 1980. He works for a computer
manufacturer and leaves France again for the States in 1981. In the
US, he first lives in Florida and works for industry. In 1983, he
starts an academic career with State University of New York which he
will leave in 1996 to spend one year with Central Washington
University. In 1990, he is invited by the University of Tsukuba, in
Japan, where he will stay 3 years. In 1997, after almost a quarter of
a century spent abroad, he will come back to France to work in the
Belfort area for a university of technology in Computer Science. His
thoughts on languages in relationship to the velvet war directly
derive from his foreign experience.

 Interlangues, Presses universitaires du Mirail,
Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail, 5, Allée Antonio Machado, 31058
Toulouse Cédex 1, France
Telephone :
Fax: (from inside France) or (33) (from
any country outside France)
ISBN: 2-85816-319-7. 450 pages
Anywhere in the world, this book can be ordered through any book

In North America, the book can be directly ordered from :

Distribution Univers,
845, rue Marie-Victorin,
Québec, P.Q. GOS 3L0,
Tel: (418) 831-7474
Fax: (418) 831-4021


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