French speakers have reacted to BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman’s attack of their language as “useless” and his claims that learning French is “positively bad for you”.
In a column for the Financial Times, the University Challenge host dismissed the global relevance of France and the French language as “long past”.
According to Mr Paxman, learning French instead of English, especially in Francophone countries such as Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, sets people back in the modern world.
“English is the language of science, technology, travel, entertainment and sport. To be a citizen of the world it is the one language that you must have,” he wrote.
And the 65-year-old former Newsnight host ridiculed the “middle-class English” who believe people should learn French simply because it is “good for you”.
His words have riled those who still see reason to learn French, which is spoken by more than 200 million people around the world and is an official language of the United Nations.