Canada’s Ambassador to Kuwait H.E. Louis-Pierre Emond hosted a reception at his residence on Monday to mark International Francophonie Day. His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was the chief guest on the occasion. The event was also attended by several sheikhs, senior Kuwaiti officials, and foreign diplomats.
In his address to the gathering, H.H. Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah highlighted the French language contributions to human history, literature, philosophy, politics and arts. “We meet again to celebrate the International Francophonie Day and to express gratitude for Francophone culture’s contributions to humanity all over its history, especially in the realms of literature, philosophy, politics, arts and science,” Sheikh Nasser said. He emphasized, “the French has proved itself as one of the most important languages for interaction among people of different civilizations. It is a language that shared vocabulary, meanings and structures with other languages and showed its great ability to take and give during its long history.”
He noted that the French language was influenced remarkably by Arabic during the Muslim rule of the neighboring Iberian Peninsula, also or Al-Andalus. In the Andalusian era, the French interacted with the Arabic culture and borrowed from it several words and terms that became later a part of vocabulary. This was highlighted by many oriental studies researchers such as Henri Lammens. Pope Sylvester II (946-1003) was also one of the main figures in this interaction during that period, he added.
Sheikh Nasser also shared that the French language influence on other world languages and culture. “The French language was also a source of vocabulary for many Asian and African nations. This was also clear in Arabic vernaculars in French which Arabs borrowed many words and still use them in their daily life interactions,” he explained.
Sheikh Nasser said he believed that the French language embodied the history and experiences of a large number of nations in the four corner of the globe. “The French was no longer considered a private language of the French people or conveyer of their culture production, but rather a language that conveys sentiments and cultures of many other nations in Americas, Africa and Asia,” he noted. He went on to say that the French words and grammatical structures had become a tool for recording feelings, ideas, thoughts, knowledge in an impressive way. His Highness Sheikh Nasser also highlighted the most prominent French and Arabic figures who enriched the cultural interaction between the two languages through their diverse works.
He thanked attending dignitaries and the candian ambassador for hosting this event, and emphasized the strong relations between Kuwait and all Francophone countries. He recalled their supportive stances to Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation period in 1990-91.
The International Francophonie Day is observed within the International Organization of the Francophonie on March 20 to celebrate the French language and Francophone culture. There are over 369 million French speakers on Earth. The International Organization of the Francophonie is an international organization representing countries and regions where French is a lingua franca or customary language, and where a significant proportion of the population are francophones (French speakers), or where there is a notable affiliation with French culture. Kuwait became an observer state in the organization in July 2017.