Tokyo French Speakers Sue in Defense of Language
SCOTT SIMON, host:
Sacrebleu, or the Japanese equivalent. A group of French-speaking residents of Japan is suing the governor of Tokyo for what they call insulting remarks. At the dedication of a university building last fall, Governor Shintaro Ishihara referred to French as a failed language. He said that the mother tongue of Proust, Balzac and Filette(ph) and the adopted language of Jerry Lewis is a language which cannot count numbers. Now French numbers can be complicated for beginners, and Governor Ishihara is known for making controversial and outlandish remarks, including that the Nanking massacre never happened. The 21 French speakers and teachers who have filed suit say his comments have hindered their economic livelihoods. They want to be paid damages of about $4,000 US each, which suggests they can count some numbers pretty well.
Coming up, a band that sings in many languages, the Brazilian Girls, most of whom aren't. Stay tuned.