Julie: We got the idea for The Story of French at the same time we got the idea for our last book, Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong. We had been sent to France in 1999 to study “why the French were resisting globalization” and quickly realized they weren’t, and we wrote Sixty Million Frenchmen to explain how the French think and why they organize themselves the way they do. At the same time, we realized that the French language truly WAS a language of globalization. So we decided to write The Story of French to explain where French came from, how it acquired the particular values associated with it, how it spread across the planet and why it is still so important in the world today.
Is it only for linguists?
Julie: No — au contraire! The Story of French is a popular history of French, written for a general audience. We were inspired by the famous BBC documentary and book The Story of English. There have been quite a number of histories of the French language written by linguists, and we read a lot of them before we wrote The Story of French. But we only refer linguistics as a “marker” in the different stages of the history of the language.
Tune in next week for part 2 where Julie reveals what she admires about the French language…