Discuss the relationship in Monnè, outrages et défis by Ahmadou Kourouma between the French language and the presence of notions and expressions associated with the Malinké language and culture.

In Monnè, outrages et défis, the arrival of the French and their language has an adverse effect on the Malinké people and their expressions. In the beginning, the Malinké people have strength and coherence. When the French come, their expressions start to crack and weaken. At one point, the French language literally compromises the Malinké people when the griot willfully mistranslates Keita’s remonstrations into French.

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In Monnè, the Malinké people appear to understand and evaluate their world and culture through words. Before the French come along, their language has coherence and sense. The narrator admits that pre-France Soba was no utopia. The narrator notes that it was “not the reign of happiness for everyone.” However, their pre-France world is “clear.” People understand it. They can apply their own language to their surroundings, which allows them to “grasp the world.”

The arrival of the French creates cracks in their language and their world. Their world is not so self-sufficient and impenetrable. As the text says, “The earth crackled under our feet.” The language becomes less forceful and more delicate. It’s more alien than familiar. Even the sun turns into a “stranger.”

You could also say that the presence of the French language causes the griot to betray the Malinké language and culture. Remember, when the king lambasts a powerful French army officer, the griot purposely mistranslates him. Perhaps the griot is trying to spare Soba from further harm. Maybe the griot is collaborating with the French. Either way, the presence of the French—and of their language—appears to corrupt the Malinké language. Whatever his aims, the griot’s mistranslation can still qualify as an act of deception and dishonesty.

Lastly, you could talk about how the presence of the French language debases the king. At first, the language surrounding the king is forceful and mythical. It’s like he’s an all-powerful god. However, as the French gain power, the language around Keita weakens. He’s compared to a domesticated crocodile.

Again, the French have an enervating impact on Malinké society. The harm they caused can be traced by following the trajectory of the Malinké notions and expressions. They start off strong and coherent before the French make them vulnerable and unfamiliar.

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