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A speech misattributed to Emmanuel Macron in which he announced that he would replace English with Arabic. “From Kindergarten”, has raised many questions on social media since early December. But the sound clip comes from a parody TikTok account used to broadcast satirical content about the president. The original video of the speech was filmed during the inauguration of the Cité Internationale de la langue française on October 30, 2023, and the President's voice-over was created by artificial intelligence before being superimposed on the images.
A video has been streamed over 14,000 times since December 9 on TikTok (archived link Here) raises many questions online. We can see the French President Emmanuel Macron, sitting behind a lectern, speaking in front of an assembly of political representatives, where we can see in particular the Minister of Culture Reema Abdul Malak and the Minister of National Education Gabriel Attal.
“My dear fellow citizens, Arabic will be taught instead of English from Kindergarten“, declares, in no uncertain terms, the voice of the French President on the recording.
“For those wondering if I'm serious, let me prove it to you by saying a few words in my fluent Arabic.“, Emmanuel Macron's voice continues, before uttering a sentence in literary Arabic.That is : “Hello everyone, I am pleased to present these new education reforms“.
These images are partially obscured by a text in Arabic, watermarked in white on black, which states: “France is full of Arabs so we need to integrate the Arabic language. Learn Arabic from the age of three“.
In the comments, some Internet users doubted the authenticity of this text. Others, on the contrary, seem to believe it.
Broadcast on Facebook by accounts based in West Africa, Audio Literally created from scratch, speech synthesis software.
A parody video
The first instance of the video, found by AFP, was posted on December 7 on the TikTok account “Eliseparotis“(Archived link Here), which regularly airs humorous montages of the French president. AFP has already checked this article or other clips posted online by this account.
In the title, the hashtag word “#Comedy“It claims to be a parody and not a genuine speech by the French president. However, no such sign was affixed to the video, which has been shared nearly 20,000 times since its release. publication, and was picked up by other accounts that did not specify its satirical intent.
AFP conducted a reverse image search with a browser extension to trace the origins of the images used to create this montage. InVid-WeVerifylead to a Video YouTube lasts 57 minutes (archived link Here), released online by BFMTV on 30 October.
“Speech by Emmanuel Macron for the inauguration of the International City of the French Language“, is written in the caption. In these pictures, we can actually read what the French President was speaking that day from Villers-Cottets in the Hautes-de-France region. It was in this city that he inaugurated the International City. French language.
“The French language builds the unity of the nation“, this is “Freedom and universal language“, announced the President during a speech in the courtyard of the fort, which will include”A living cultural space“Dedicated to the French language.
Images of this text have been used several times by the author of the TikTok account “Eliseparotis” to create montages, as demonstrated by the various parody clips below:
As for the sound of the video we are checking, the account “Elyseeperodi” Allowed by many software programs to create a voice similar to that of Emmanuel Macron.
According to the ElevenLabs detector, there is a 98% chance that this audio was generated by this text-to-speech software.
Based on real audio extracts, Eleven Labs offers to clone voices and pronounce selected text. “This technology is called 'Voice cloning'”, explains Manel Terraza, founder of Loccus.ai, an AI-powered voice recognition tool.
To reproduce a voice, simply “Get the audio extract from the person and upload it to the software. We write the desired text and the computer reads it with a sound as close as possible to the person's voice. And yous Can write in different languages.”
In the same software, for example, in the clip we are checking, AFP is able to easily create a sentence spoken in Arabic by the voice of Emmanuel Macron, namely: “Hello everyone, I am pleased to present these new education reforms.“
Arabic: 0.28% of language provision in secondary education
The French government has not initiated any recent reforms in the teaching of Arabic. It has also developed somewhat in France.
A Article Posted on the subject in November 2022, Liberation wrote: “Arabic, the second most spoken language in France, ranks only seventh among languages taught in school. Three to four million people speak it, or 4% to 6% of the population, but only 0.28% of the linguistic offering is devoted to it.“(Archived link Here)
In middle and high school, “Of the approximately 5.7 million students involved, only 16,021 chose Arabic at the start of the 2021 academic year.“, the Ministry of National Education informed AFP on December 19, “Students can choose Arabic as 1st, 2nd or 3rd modern language (…)..” But not all institutions offer this option and some Arabic language teachers can work in French general education.
At the start of the 2021 school year, secondary schools will “190 Arabic teachers“, the ministry continues, and”For the 2022 session, 6 posts were allotted for external coordination and 10 posts for caps.“In this discipline.
“The institution (head of the institution, teachers, unions, etc.) is not committed to Arabic for fear of stigmatizing the institution.” By such clichés “Arabic-supplied establishment attracts diaspora“, noted retired Arab Associate Professor Khalif Al-Haqaq, in an interview with AFP on December 19.
“The creation of Arabic studies (…) takes place when there is a strong will of a decision-maker: the rector, the head of the institution, above all“, he adds.
“There are many barriers to learning Arabic in France“, observes Nabil Wakim, journalist and editor at Le Monde selection “Arabic for everyone: why my language is banned in France“.
“All of these obstacles, arising at the family level or national education, are similar in relation to the Arabic language. Today there is a lot of confusion between Arabic and Islam, Islam and terrorism…“, assesses a journalist, who is a “Disinformation campaign by the far right and a section of the right wing“In 2016.
That year, Minister of National Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem announced a reform plan aimed at eliminating Optional teaching of modern foreign languages (ELCO), an older system taught outside compulsory school hours by foreign teachers trained in Arabic, Croatian, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian or Turkish.
At the same time, the minister mentioned the possibility of learning these languages as part of the traditional school curriculum from CP, just like English, German or Spanish.
At the time “Misinformation from the Ministry of National Education that Arabic should be taught in primary schools is spreading on the internet.“, notes Nabil Wakim. A misconception taken up by many political representatives Xavier BertrandAt France Inter he said he was opposed to “Arabic is compulsory from primary school“argue”We must be careful that we do not have anything that leads us further down the path of communalism“(Archived link Here)
“There are some 'two Arabs': multiculturalism, openness to the world, career opportunities, and then 'settled' Arabic and 'elite' Arabic, which is considered a social language.“, again points out Nabil Wakim.
“If we think about the place Italian had in France in the 20th century, it was also perceived as a 'dangerous' language because it was the language of immigrants and the poor. The same can be said of a certain number of regional languages that the Third Republic wanted to keep aside. Question: What place do we give to these languages?“, asks the journalist.
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