Courtesy Reuters

Along with political and economic domination, a great power exerts tremendous cultural influence over its colonies or satellites. Language offers a particularly dramatic illustration, as with the linguistic quilt the French and the British stitched across Africa. When empires decline, so does their cultural sway, including the use of their language. For insight into changing power relations after communism's fall, listen to what the former Soviet bloc is speaking.

People's attachment to language and the culture it embodies-or resentment of them, in the case of a conqueror's tongue and culture-runs deep. But whether the motivation is emotional or pragmatic, ardent

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