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  5. How useful is French in Asia?

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisDalton

How useful is French in Asia?

Africa is the growth area for French. It appears French is holding steady in Europe and losing ground in Canada, the USA and everywhere else. I agree it is a global language but how useful is it in countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon and Syria? Would like to hear from anyone on Duolingo that is from those countries or even elsewhere in Asia as to how useful you find French.

April 5, 2020

18 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnLxoP

I'm Vietnamese. Sadly to say, the usage of French in Vietnam nowadays is very limited. To be specific, in Vietnam, knowing French is useful for interpreters, translators, historians, linguists, people who are interested in the colonial past, those who work in tourism, and nothing more. However, French used to have a much more important role in the past when Vietnam was a colony of France. Vietnamese also has bunch of French loan words, ie: cà phê - café, súp lơ - chou fleur, su hào - chou rave, bê tông - béton, ba lô - ballot, etc.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisDalton

Thanks. Lots of good info. Wasn’t French an official language in South Vietnam up until the end of the war? It is sad as a strong francophone population in Vietnam (like in parts of Africa) would bolster French around the world. Would you say the Vietnamese elite -political and economic are interested in the French language or educating their children in France or are those days long gone?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnLxoP

French hasn't been the official language in any part of Vietnam since 1954. However, in South Vietnam, there were some "trường tây" (literally "western schools", at that time, west meant France) and the upper class, educated people, rich people often used some French words in formal conversations. A very unique thing is many people at that time liked to use the French "moi" and "toi" instead of the Vietnamese pronouns tôi (I) and anh (you).

Things changed. English has replaced French as a language of international commerce and tourism. Nowadays, a lot of people like to mix some English words, even in informal conversations, to show that they're "civilized".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsakNygren1

I'm in Vietnam right now and I can't speak Vietnamese. People here barely speak any English at all. No one have tried to speak French to me either. Most people seem to be monolinguals here. English is probably more useful in Vietnam than French.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisDalton

Thanks, this is the kind of info I was looking for.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BeanyVu

I know some French communities in Vietnam. I can give you the contact if you want.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisDalton

Are they french speaking Vietnamese or French expatriates? Thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BeanyVu

I previously worked for a firm named Sutunam (based in Lyon, France with an office in Hanoi, Vietnam). That's why I know about the French community. There are many Vietnames who can speak French as well as French expats there . You can join this group on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/frenchtechvietnamgroup/. I believe it will be useful to you when you living/traveling in Vietnam


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MikeBurns622221

I have worked in French in Lebanon. But English is as useful there. In Cambodia I overheard French precisely once. English has largely replaced it as the European language in wide use.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisDalton

Interesting. French seemed established in Lebanon until fairly recently. I think Catholics there looked to France historically. I read it’s 50/50 French English today.


[deactivated user]

    I can't speak for Lebanon and Syria but in all other countries in Asia I found my English to be more useful than my French - but neither language is much use if you venture away from the tourist sites (which you really must to get and give the most benefit from your trips there).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisDalton

    Thank you for your reply. Can you give any specific examples of when you used french in a particular country, if at all. Eg hotel staff etc


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhL323toAjR

    It's an international language spoken in some 29 different countries...It's unlikely that you'll find a great deal of French speakers in the Philippines but then you probably will not find a whole lot of Chinese speakers there either


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisDalton

    Interesting info, thank you. Spanish has a long history in the Phillipines and I may be wrong but there is a bit of a revival going on (after English of course). Ex president Arroyo apparently spoke Spanish. I wonder if any of the government / business elite speak French.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhL323toAjR

    Spanish was the National Language until as late as 1987 if they speak French it is more coincidental than common


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/R_S_B

    Mostly old people speak it, so it's not very useful. I heard that in Japan and Korea, French is a popular foreign language for them to learn, but few people actually gain fluency in it. I read about one guy talking about being in Japan without being able to speak Japanese, but he somehow learned his waitress speaks French as a second language like he does, so they communicated in French instead of Japanese or English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DenisDalton

    Thanks for replying.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/---JB---

    In Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos It's useful only if you want be a traductor lol

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