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February 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Currie Thompson <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 1 Feb 1994 14:56:07 EST
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (36 lines)
In Message Tue, 1 Feb 1994 13:29:19 -0400,
  "Gloria Monti GD 1995" <[log in to unmask] writes:
>>     And there is no difference between a foreign language and an
>> international language?
>> Currie Thompson
>        The difference lies in the connotation of the adjective "foreign"
>vs. "international."  If you are asking whether a foreign language is the
>same as an international language I am answering with another question.  Is
>there a difference between a Negro person and an African-American person?
>        I believe it is important to establish that the difference lies
>*not* in the thing per se, but rather in the way it is culturally perceived.
     And culturally English makes a distinction between a foreign language
and an international one.  (And other languages with which I am familiar
make similar distinctions.)  So, if you make it your goal to ban the term
"foreign" from the English language because it is not "correct" (in your
view), then you might give some thought to what you want to prescribe in its
     But less we get too far removed from the topic--foreign films and the
Oscars--let me recommend a foreign-language film that may become an Oscar
nominee: Maria Luisa Bemberg's DE ESO NO SE HABLA (ONE DOESN'T TALK ABOUT
THAT), which portrays beautifully the absurdity of "polite" censorship
(as opposed to the politically legislated type) as a way of dealing with
     Finally, please do not assume that I am opposed to changing the way we
speak in order to accommodate people's feelings.  If you would feel better,
for example, if people used the phrase "international students" rather than
"foreign students," then say so.  Most people like to accommodate.  But
you might want to avoid telling people that what they have said is wrong
or incorrect (all in the name of sensitivity).  And you might want to avoid
sweeping, all-or-nothing statements such as "THE [my emphasis] correct term
is 'international.'"
Currie Thompson