The study of French grammar offers us a striking penetration into the national mind of France and into the French speaker's sense of cultural identity and civilization. The year 2009 witnessed a passionate, national debate, launched by President Sarkozy, on the significance of being French. An integral contribution to this debate was made by a French economist who distinguishes below one feature above all others in the pursuit of national identity and consciousness: the French language with all its anomalies of pronunciation, spelling and grammatical inconsistencies. We make no apologies for quoting in full his most lucid article on what it means to be French. The emphasis in three sentences has been added by the authors.