by Rob Horning

23 May 2007


Matt Yglesias takes a break from blogging about politics and the NBA playoffs (yawn) to discuss something truly interesting: foreign teen mags, in particular Jeune & Jolie from France. Yglesias points out the smattering of Franglish throughout the magazine, wondering what happened to the vaunted cultural protectionism of the Fifth Republic.  Based entirely on his examples though, I began to detect a trend—English is used whenever there seemed to be an editorial attempt to inject excitement into some concept. So perhaps English has succeeded in becoming the international language of marketing hype. So far from undermining the French cultural ministry, it could be part of its devious plan to make all conversations conducted in English worldwide seem trivial and somewhat dubious. Everything said in English will have to be regarded with the same skepticism you’d bring to any piece of ad copy. Americans abroad will find it hard to get people to take them seriously, because they will sound like Teen Beat to foreign ears whenever they begin to speak. (Something similar seems to be going on in America vis-a-vis Australia. Australian-ness for some reason seem to function in American culture as an all-purpose signifier for unlettered, unfettered uncouthness. Think of the advertisements for Foster’s—it’s Australian for beer—which prompted a friend of mine to say, “Australia, it’s American for stupid.)

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