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Francophonie 2013 in Karachi

Published Mar 17, 2013 04:08pm


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On a blinding Saturday where everyone has to squint and cower in the overwhelming heat and sun, Alliance Française’s (more commonly known as French Cultural Center in Karachi) francophonie week officially commenced.

This year’s francophonie (which succinctly refers to a network of global organisations that endeavors to bond the French-speakers), as usual, celebrates the French language and culture, acquired by people from all over the world, who we termed the francophone.

Likewise, the display of “Dis-moi dix mots”, or rather, “tell me ten words”, set the occasion on the right pied. Bouquet, for instance, was a French word that originally meant “little wood”. Now we all know how the French relish in their love of wine, rouge ou blanc. When used in this context, bouquet also transmogrifies into the aromas of wine, specially used in wine tasting, only with the nose and not the tongue. As aptly described on les peintures sur le mur, bouquet imparts the pleasure of the senses.

Quite uniquely, the word “unique” has its French roots in the 17th century, and is one of the more versatile words that has languished from its true connotation of “only one of it’s kind” to a slightly warped version of “remarkable” or “uncommon” in contemporary world.

Vis-à-vis is a French phrase which translates to "face to face". The term only became common during the mid 18th century in England, when author and politician Horace Walpole introduced the word as a small two-seater carriage where passengers have to face each other.

But it is the second literal meaning of “face to face” that we have no doubt integrated into our daily lives, with little insecurities about misinterpretation, mainly because it references itself to dos-à-dos, which is understood as “back to back” in French.

And voilà – finally the word with far too many meanings. It is an ancient form of French and one of many expressions that attested the age of time. To make things simple, it is a word we usually use with information and emotion associated with surprise, admiration, indignation, such as “here is” and “that’s it exactly”. In French, it is recognised as the imperative of voir (to see) and la (there). So, the French made perfect sense in joining les deux mots, because no matter which language the word is in, it’s still a grabber for attention, a head-turner. Voilà!

Imagine learning so much merely on the first day of francophonie; with many more days to come, Alliance Française promises to bring other titillating programs such as movie screenings, musical performance, and even a live concert by local band Fuzön (an alternative rock band based in Karachi).

Further information can be retrieved from their website. However, the time of the opening ceremony was wrongly portrayed on the website so remember to give them a call before you drop by, lest your enthusiasm gets snuffed by an empty stage!


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Comments (1) Closed

abbastoronto Mar 17, 2013 06:52pm
This is a welcome event long overdue. Would have loved to be a part of it. Brings back old memories. Pak-France friendship started on a right foot but soured with Algerian war of liberation. Settled in 1962 France became cherished in Pak eyes. De Gaulle was popular in the 1960s. Pakistanis needed no visas to visit France then. The two Republics shared their love for Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood. French was a popular language, and teaching superb. At the Oriental College in Lahore I learnt enough in 2 years in 1960s to be able to teach Business at a French university in Montreal 20 years later, and it cost me no more that Rs 240 (120 Rs per year). Alliance Francaise was then considered a club for the moneyed, and its French Instruction a joke. My younger brothers, otherwise bright, in the 1970s shed Rs 500 per month for two years at AF and neither speaks a word today. I hope AF has begun catering to the common and uses better teaching methods and cheaper. Then French was a world language, but today native Punjabi speakers outnumber them, and their combined wealth worldwide (Sikhs, Indians, Paks) may well be larger than the native French. I hope such Francophonies can stop this decline as France has a lot to offer to the betterment of mankind with its Republican ideals.