Presentation Ceremony for Prof. Albert Valdman
Bloomington (IN), le 16 avril 2012. Discours prononcé par le Consul général à l’occasion de la remise de décoration à Professeur Albert Valdman.
Bloomington (IN), April 16, 2012. Speech given by the Consul General on the occasion of the presentation ceremony for Professor Albert Valdman.
Dear friends and honored guests, we are here this afternoon to recognize the outstanding achievements of Indiana University Rudy Professor Emeritus Albert Valdman. Dr. Valdman’s resumé of service to French language and culture is impressive : he has taught at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, Pennsylvania State University, and has been a faculty member Indiana University for forty years. Currently he is serving as chairman of the Committee for Research and Development in Language Instruction, and is the founder and present director of the Creole Institute at IU, the only center in the US equipped to deal in-depth with linguistic and related educational issues in Haiti and the Creole world. Dr. Valdman has also held appointments at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, the University of Nice, Harvard University, and the University of Oregon. While this might be enough to keep an ordinary man busy, Dr. Valdman has not stopped there.
He also serves as editor for the academic journal Studies in Second Language Acquisition and has served as president for both the International Association of Applied Linguistics and the American Association of Teachers of French, as Vice President of the Comité International des Etudes Créoles, and as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. His life-time of dedication and hard work has earned him fellowships from the Guggenheim, NATO-NSF, and the Fulbright program as well as numerous prestigious awards. He was given France’s highest academic honor, Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2000 and named to the Ordre des Francophone d’Amérique from the government of Quebec Province in 2008. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Haitian Studies Association in 2009 and the inaugural Life Achievement Award in 2012 by the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics. Last but not least, he has also been awarded a doctorate honoris causa from the University of Neuchâtel in 1991.
He continues to lead in the field of French studies in North America, publishing widely on French and Francophone linguistics, language acquisition and culture, highlighting for all the linguistic and cultural ties between France and the Francophone world. In particular, Chez nous, an insightful language book which incorporates facts about the daily lives of Francophone groups in North America, the Haitian Creole-English Bilingual Dictionary, the only of its kind to provide detailed translations of Haitian Creole words and expressions into English, and the Dictionary of Louisiana French, a thoroughly-researched volume which offers readers a comprehensive inventory of current French usage and meanings in Southern Louisiana. All this attests to the fact that Dr. Valdman is the undisputed expert on Francophone culture and language in the Americas. That is why he is honored today by the Renaissance Française and is receiving “La médaille du mérite Francophone”.
France has played an important role in the history of Indiana and many other American states, but it has also shaped the cultural make-ups of many countries around the world, and its influence continues today through the French language. French-speakers make up a population of 220 million people residing on 5 continents world-wide. French is the national language of 36 countries in the world, second only to English. It is also the third most popular language used for internet communications. Half of the foreign movies presented in the US are Francophone, and 30% of books translated into English for Americans are of Francophone origin. It has retained a powerful capacity to attract. Some of the recent winners of the Prix Goncourt have, in fact, not spoken French as their native language. For example, among them, you may find a Moroccan Tahar Ben Jelloun, a Russian Andrei Makine, a Lebanese, Amin Maalouf, and an American, Jonathan Littel. It serves today not as the poetic language of Molière and the French aristocracy, but instead as a vehicle of diversity, connecting millions of people from a broad range of cultural heritages. Such is the power of language in a globalized world. French is the second-most popular language taught in high-schools and universities in the US, and it is fortunate that students can depend on exceptional professors such as Dr. Valdman to deliver them a comprehensive education not only in French, but also in Francophone languages and cultures.
Finally, I would like to express to professor Valdman my personal admiration and the gratitude of the French Republic for his passion, his dedication and his outstanding contribution to the promotion of the French language and culture.
Monsieur le Professeur,
Je vous adresse toutes mes félicitations pour cette médaille d’Or du mérite francophone qui récompense votre indéfectible engagement au service de la langue française et de la francophonie./.