French Language Blog

Who Are Ze French? Posted by on Jul 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

L’identité française (A not-too-academic discussion)

Pas d’excuses! Mercredi (Wednesday) was Bastille Day, which is sort of like Hichem’s birthday because he’s French, and hier (yesterday) was mon anniversaire (my birthday)! So we’re all out of whack. Désolée.


While “French politicians a bunch of whiny Islamophobic babies” (lien) is probably not good journalism, it is an exciting topic. Vos commentaires (your comments) have been très intéressants, et j’aimerai continuer la discussion de mardi (and I’d like to continue Tuesday’s discussion).

Of course, the French Assemblée nationale (National Assembly) just passed a law qui interdit le port du voile intégral (which bans the wearing of the full-face veil). Of course, the debate goes beyond this one law. L’enjeu, an extremely important French word, means the issue, or what’s at stake: literally, ce qui est en jeu (that which is in play). L’enjeu is the crux of the problem.

The real enjeu (issue) behind the recent French law banning the burqa and niqab is l’identité française. The current debate is just une partie (a part) d’un débat bien plus grand (of a much larger debate).

Qu’est-ce que l’identité? (What is identity?)

Le dictionnaire Merriam-Webster dit que le mot « identité » (says that the word « identity ») vient du latin (comes from the Latin) « idem et idem » (same and same). « Same and same » is just the problem : how do you define une identité nationale when citizens are not idem et idem?

Qu’est-ce que l’identité française? (What is the French identity ?)


For me, l’enjeu du problème de l’identité française (the enjeu of the problem of the French identity) comes down to one word:  le. The. The French identity, only one, which must unir (unite) 60 million people of diverse background and personal identité.

French identity includes three concepts clefs (key concepts): la laïcité, la liberté et l’égalité. Secularism, liberty and equality are central to France’s conception of itself. So if la laïcité (secularism) is in direct conflict with la liberté et l’égalité (liberty and equality), wherefore l’identité française ? What is the French identity ? L’Assemblée nationale has made its decision, in support of secularism and nominal equality.

Whatever one’s views, the real answer here is probably the creation of economic and educational opportunity. 2000 femmes (women) are affected by the new legislation, and who knows how many of them are actually opprimées (oppressed) and in need of protection juridique (judicial protection). Moi je dirais (I would say): To tackle les problèmes sociaux (the social problems), focus on creating economic opportunities for all people. Removing barriers will promote economic and social growth, and might even help shape a stronger, more supple identité française—without compromising the core beliefs of the nation.

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  1. Jennie:

    Oh, and PS: DMCV!!!