Murdering language

“Language is one area of culture that Nicolas Sarkozy can’t dominate,” complains Hélène Cixous in the Guardian, “so he mangles it with a calculated barbarity… You’ve got to see what he does to language. He mauls it, he beats it, he pummels it, he dismembers it. Pushing syncope to the limit, he swallows half the syllables and he spits the rest in his opponent’s face.”

I hate to put Global Dashboard in the embarrassing position of defending the vertically-challenged French President, but seriously? This from Hélène Cixous? Author of some of the worst linguistic atrocities ever perpetuated?

Pure I, identical to I-self, does not exist. I is always in difference. I is the open set of the trances of an I by definition changing, mobile, because living-speaking-thinking-dreaming. This truth should moreover make us prudent and modest in our judgements and our definitions. The difference is in us, in me, difference plays me (my play). And it is numerous: since it plays with me in me between me and me or I and myself. A “myself” which is the most intimate first name of You. I will never say often enough that the difference is not one, that there is never without the other, and that the charm of difference (beginning with sexual difference) is that it passes… [continues ad nauseam]

Really, really, really: not fair.

Sarkozy threat to pull France out of Euro?

Seems Nicolas Sarkozy, Global Dashboard’s favourite European leader, was in typically understated form during the recent Eurozone crisis summit:

Sarkozy demanded “a compromise from everyone to support Greece … or France would reconsider its position in the euro,” according to one source cited by El País.

“Sarkozy went as far as banging his fist on the table and threatening to leave the euro,” said one unnamed Socialist leader who was at the meeting with Zapatero. “That obliged Angela Merkel to bend and reach an agreement.”

Europe: don’t look to us when sterling collapses

UK reluctance to help with the Euro bailout has not gone down well at all:

Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the head of the French markets regulator, said sterling was bound to come under pressure on the markets given the delay in forming a UK government after last week’s inconclusive general election.

Mr Jouyet, a former Europe minister who is close to President Nicolas Sarkozy, indicated that Britain could expect no help from the eurozone.

“The British are most definitely going to be targeted given the political difficulties they have,” he told Europe1 radio. “If they don’t want solidarity with the eurozone, we will see what will happen with regard to the United Kingdom.”

Following its refusal to help its neighbours, Mr Jouyet said Britain had become a peripheral player in the bloc.

There was now a “three-speed Europe”, he said: “Europe of the euro, the Europe of countries that understand the euro, such as Poland and Sweden, and the British.”

Global Governance: a very French debate

This week, all the big ideas for the future of world order are coming from Frenchmen.  Here’s WTO Chief Pascal Lamy speaking in Brussels on how the EU should present itself in future G20 meetings (as recorded by Charlemagne):

“If one European takes the floor on one topic, and then another European takes the floor on the same topic, nobody listens. Nobody listens because either it’s the same thing and it gets boring, or it’s not the same thing and it will not influence the result at the end of the day….So the right solution, if I may, is at least to make sure that they speak with one mouth. Not one voice—one mouth—on each topic on the agenda. That would be a great improvement.”

If plodding Anglo-Saxons find this voice/mouth thing a bit too Gallic for comfort (they’ll be distinguishing the signifier and signified in EU policy next!) it’s really rather elegant: if lots of European leaders insist on going to G20 confabs they should “divvy up the agenda ahead of time, and agree that one leader would speak (and only one) on each topic in the name of the EU”.  In New York, meanwhile, President Sarkozy spoke on global governance at Columbia today, forsaking elegance for ambition:

“In the 21st century,” he said, “we cannot afford that only a handful of countries lead the way. India, Africa and Latin America represent 2.5 billion people, but have no permanent seats in the Security Council. On this trip, I am initiating a reform to have permanent members from every region of the world. We need this in order to tackle the global environmental and financial challenges we are facing.”

I’d like to tell you more about Sarkozy’s speech, but (i) he abandoned his prepared text, so we’re still waiting for a full transcript; (ii) almost every account of the event I’ve read so far has focused on how Carla looked.  Which was, if you must ask, good.

[Picture credit: Columbia’s Hoot.]

Update [David]: The Telegraph sees a conspiracy in something called asymmetrical translation:

The French version of the binding summit text, agreed on Thursday, used the original words “le gouvernement économique”.

To spare Mr Brown’s feelings, the English text used the more innocuous and less controversial term “economic governance”.

“There is no fundamental difference of view, but rather a sensitivity to certain words which has led to an asymmetrical translation,” remarked the EU president.