As if there isn't enough for the French to worry about these days: climate change, the global financial crisis, the World Cup, farm subsidies, Cannes, terrorism. But now they are facing a threat to that which is most sacred—their language. According to the Financial Times, "Senior French officials are mounting a rearguard action to defend the use of French at the UN and other international institutions as a language of diplomacy, in the face of the inexorable rise of English." It seems the reaction was "partly prompted by the appointment of Britain’s Lady Ashton to head the European Union’s foreign policy in November."

Luckily, President Nicolas Sarkozy has deployed former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin to New York as a special envoy to promote French, bolstering the efforts of France's ambassador to the United Nations, Gérard Araud, who, reports FT, "declined to outline the programme for his country’s presidency of the UN Security Council in English, even as aides scurried to set up translation facilities. 'I don’t speak English. Point [full stop]!' Mr Araud told the UN’s mostly English-speaking press corps."

Perhaps they could all strike a compromise and speak ... German?

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