English in the French workplace: realism and anxieties
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
© 2008 The Author. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Volume 27, Issue 2, pages 181–195, May 2008
How to Cite
DENEIRE, M. (2008), English in the French workplace: realism and anxieties. World Englishes, 27: 181–195. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-971X.2008.00551.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
- (Received 18 April 2007.)
ABSTRACT: The adoption of English as a corporate language in an increasingly large number of French companies has provoked various reactions ranging from enthusiastic embrace to strong rejection based on anxiety and cultural protectionism. This paper is an attempt to understand these reactions based on a stratified study of the extent to which English has taken root in the French workplace. Results point to a real “English divide” between educated and less educated groups, and between upper management and shop floor workers. While most employees are willing to adopt English to facilitate international trade, they reject the top-down imposition of English that often leads to exclusion and various forms of de-skilling. The paper proposes a model that allows different levels of proficiency to coexist in such a way as to attenuate the perverse effects on power relationships that the adoption of English sometimes results in.