French farce

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The Conservatives used to be known as “the stupid party”, and reading MSP Murdo Fraser’s comments (“Sacre bleu! Contretemps at Holyrood as Fraser questions teaching of French”, 26 February), one can see why.

Even if French was confined to mainland France it would still be well worth learning, given that country’s political standing and cultural heritage, but in saying that “nobody in the world speaks French” Mr Fraser betrays an abysmal ignorance of francophone Africa and of the swathes of the Middle East and Far East where French is at least a second language.

I once taught English to a class of Lebanese academics who segued effortlessly from Arabic into French and back again as they struggled to add English to their linguistic repertoire.

Speaking as one who has also lived and worked in Germany, using German on a daily basis, I am all for the teaching of German language, history and culture, but if Mr Fraser thinks that German has “a far wider international reach than French does”, I am just glad he is not Scotland’s foreign secretary.

I can’t help being reminded of Senator Dan Quayle, who, on the eve of a trip to Latin America, regretted that he had not studied Latin at school.

Harry D Watson

Braehead Grove

Edinburgh