Thursday, March 02, 2006

Back at ya, Frenchy

What goes around in France:

A French subsidiary of the US conglomerate General Electric was found guilty Monday of breaching the country's language laws for producing English-only versions of health and safety guidelines.

Confirming a lower court ruling, the appeal court in Versailles west of Paris ordered GE Medical Systems to pay 580,000 euros (690,000 dollars) to the company's works committee and to the General Labour Conferation (VCGT) trade union, which brought the case to justice.

The company was also fined 20,000 euros for every computer and print document that has not been translated in three months' time.

The case was brought under a 1994 law intended to defend the role of the French
language in public life.

Comes around in Algeria:

A sudden decision by Algeria to close 42 French schools because they did not give priority to Arabic, the national language, sparked concern in France Thursday.

Several French newspapers noted the closures, which had been threatened for a year, and quoted Algerian parents saying the decision was "catastrophic" for their children.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was seen as making concessions to Islamic hardliners in parliament by ordering the closures.

Algeria, a former French colony that only won independence after a brutal war, has laws asserting the primacy of Arabic in official documents and institutions, even though French is widely spoken, especially among the elite.

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