Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Stephen Walt on Federer and English

I know Stephen Walt is supposed to be a great political scientist, but his TV-watching skills need some fine-tuning.

The announcer at *Roland Garros* Stadium reported the scores en francais and French TV apparently got the first courtside interview with Federer after the match (while NBC took a commercial break), but Federer and Swedish runner-up Robin Soderling gave their acceptance speeches in English (with a French translation for the crowd). One imagines the spirit of Charles de Gaulle whirring rapidly in his tomb, not to mention the "Immortals" in L'Academie francaise.

It’s possible that Robin Soderling (the Swedish runner-up) spoke to the crowd in English because he doesn't speak French. But Federer reportedly speaks fluent French, German, and Swiss-German, as well as English, so why wasn’t he addressing the local crowd in their native tongue?

My guess is that this was dictated by the global TV market, and by the growing position of English as the lingua franca of contemporary globalization. The tournament was being watched all over the world, and English is the language that would be understood by the greatest number of potential viewers world-wide.


Nice theory and nice guess. Too bad Federer actually gave his speech in French. He spoke to Soderling in English because the Swede doesn't speak French.

Here's my theory. Federer spoke to the French crowd and the French press in French. He spoke to the non-French speaking Soderling, Aggasi and the rest of the world's press in English. My guess is that this was dictated by Federer being a nice, sensible human being.

UPDATE: In the comments, Ahsan points out that Walt has apologized for his error, making this a rather pointless post.

6 comments:

Ahsan said...

He apologized for his error:

http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/06/09/did_i_double_fault

AKS said...

That is a lame ass apology. All he had to do was say I'm wrong, which he never does say in his 'apology.'

Ahsan said...

AKS, he said the following:

"Mea culpa, and apologies to all for missing this one."

Don't know what else you want. Combined with your rambling on about the condom ad, you've said precisely zero intelligent things in the last 48 hours. Congratulations.

AKS said...

Skimmed through that link. Sorry Mr. Walt.

Ahsan dude stop sucking up to Walt, jeez, I don't think you're going to get a post-doctoral grant by sticking up for him on blogs.

Ahsan said...

Hahahaha. Touche.

Nadir Burney said...

Do you guys prefer me or Farooq?