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The curiosities of the style of language use of Nicholas Sarkozy.

The curiosities of the style of language use of Nicholas Sarkozy.

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by John Sugrue. Originally submitted for BA Language And Cultural Studies - French at University College Cork, with lecturer Prof. Grace Neville in the category of Languages & Linguistics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by John Sugrue. Originally submitted for BA Language And Cultural Studies - French at University College Cork, with lecturer Prof. Grace Neville in the category of Languages & Linguistics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/05/2013

 
1
Abstract
The way we use language says a great deal about the society we live in. Politicians seem tobe well aware of this. President Obama is renowned for his lucid and memorable use of language in his speeches. He successfully manipulates language to inspire people and makeeven the most unremarkable of subject matter more motivating for his listeners.However, these linguistic talents are not present in all politicians. The former President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, provoked controversy throughout his term of office with regard tohis use of language. At times, he spoke in a very poor manner, often disregarding basic rulesof grammar. On other occasions, he appeared to be making efforts to speak using a higherregister of language but with mixed results.In this essay, I consider some of the different opinions of this irregularity and unreliability in
Sarkozy’s use of language. I analyse the viewpoints described in three French newspaper 
articles. Each looks at the way Sarkozy uses the French language and presents conflicting
attitudes towards it. Each tries to account for Sarkozy’s reasoning and tries to suggest the
extent to which the he is in control of his use of language. They consider the extent to whichthe way someone in such a powerful and public position uses language can affect society.As a result of my analyses of these articles, it became clear to me that Sarkozy was verymuch aware of the power of language in influence people in society. He used to try to appealto different groups of French society through his style of speech, some would say for possibleelectoral gain. However, Sarkozy was unsuccessful in his approach to language as hesucceeded in constructing for himself an image of a contradictory person.
 
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The manner in which Sarkozy used language during his time as President of Francerepresented an awareness of the power of language to change society but he has become acase study for how sociolinguistics is a complex issue but which is difficult to manipulate toachieve a particular aim.
 
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Body of Essay
The role of the French language in defining French identity cannot be underestimated. Désiré
 Nisard wrote that ‘L’image la plus exacte de l’esprit fran
çais est la langue français est lalangue française elle-même
1
. Similarly
, Rivarol said that ‘
ce
qui n’est pas clair n’est pas
français,
ce qui n’est pas clair est encore anglais, i
talien, grec ou latin
2
. For Rivarol, theFrench of his day was superior to the other mainstream European languages due to itsprecision. French could convey more meaning and expression than the others. Nisard alsoalludes to the exactitude of the language. Both scholars suggest that the language defines thevery notion of what it is to be French. They suggest that the precision, efficiency andresourcefulness of the French language are reflected in the French people themselves.In this essay, I consider these notions of the precision of French and its meanings for identityin a 21
st
century context and particularly in light of the style of speech of the currentPrésident of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, whose use of French attracts significant mediaattention and conflict. Three recent newspaper articles form the basis of my analysis:i.
 
Nicolas Sarkozy parle
aussi mal que Georges Marchais’
in
 Libération
on 6 Jan 2011.ii.
 
Sarkozy ne parle pas mal, « il refuse le style amphigourique
»’
in
 Libération
on 4 Jan2011.iii.
 
‘«
Sarkozy fait des efforts pour se présidentialiser
»’
in
 Le Figaro
on 17 Nov 2010.
The first of these articles describes Sarkozy’s use of an informal register and
, indeed,generally incorrect French. The second reports on a Minister in
Sarkozy’s Cabinet’s
defenceof the President
s style. The third describes a case of Sarkozy using language to the opposite
1
Désire Nisard,
 Histoire de la littérature française
, p.
1
.
2
Antoine de Rivarol,
 De l'universalité de la langue française
, p. 49.

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