I came across some interesting statistics this morning.
How much is your degree worth? The worst value qualifications revealed
(The Telegraph 21 April)
Top of the list for value is a degree in Economics. Physics, quite rightly, takes fourth place. But curiously, French comes as high as number nine.
Who needs French? We all know that foreigners will understand English if you shout loud enough. What makes a degree in French so valuable?
A quick look at what the French have done for the world brings up a mixed bag that includes the parachute and the baguette. While there are many with cause to be grateful for the parachute, it has not made an impact on most of our lives. The baguette was first created in Paris some hundred years ago. However, it is a relative newcomer compared to the bagel. This first appeared in the Jewish community in Kraków, Poland, way back in 1610. Often served with cream cheese and smoked salmon it is a much better nosh than a baguette and is a better fit in your pocket. Who needs a loaf of bread nearly a meter in length?
Of course, many, like myself, will enjoy the French ski slopes where some of the world’s best skiing can be found. Skiing is a major contributor to the French economy with ski resorts bringing in some £1.3 billion each year. But let us not forget who started recreational skiing in the Alpes. It was not the French, who had no idea they were sitting on “white gold”, it was the English.
Perhaps one of France’s more useful contributions is the French Letter. But it turns out that these started in America. At the time, condoms were folded like envelopes and it was believed that anything to do with sex must have come from France.
Gilbert and Sullivan had the right idea. In the Yeomen of the Guard the court jester tells us that he must be careful where he gets his jokes.
But should they by chance be imported from France half-a-crown is stopped out of your wages.
The half-crown, equivalent to one-eighth of a pound, had a long reign. It was first issued in 1549 and was last produced in 1970. How much longer, we wonder, will French be with us?