Tutor profile: Hakim I.
What is the difference between the French "Imparfait" and the "Passé Simple"?
Both the Imparfait and the Passé Simple are past tenses of the French Language. It is important to stress that, similarly to past tenses in other romance langugages, they do not perfectly match with the past tenses in English. The passé simple (also known as Passé Défini) is generally used in written expression, is very literary, and almost forgotten by native speakers. It is - despite its name - one of the tenses learners of French - both native and foreign - have most difficulties to master. The Passé Simple is used as a more refined expression of the Passé Composé to express an action that, whatever its duration, is now complete. The action has a beginning and an end. Otherwise, it is required to use the Imparfait to express the fact that the action was lasting: Il attendait sur le quai quand le train arriva (he was waiting on the binary when the train arrived). As evidenced, the English translation expresses this action using the Past Continuous tense as equivalent to the French Imparfait, whereas the Past Simple here perfectly matches the French Passé Simple. The other function of the Imparfait tense is to describe an object, or a person, at the past tense: mon frère était grand, il avait les yeux marrons et portait une chemise bleue (my brother was tall, he had brown eyes and wore a blue shirt). In this latter case, the English translation uses the Past Simple tense. Finally, the imparfait expresses someone's habits: tous les matins, il buvait un café sans sucre, puis il se rasait et allait au travail en train (every morning, he drank a coffee without sugar, shaved and went to work by train/ he used to drink sugarless coffee, to shave and then go to work by train). In this case, the time complement is fundamental in order to know what tense must be used to translate this sentence from English to French. In French, writing or saying last morning he drank a coffee with no sugar must be translate as "hier matin, il but un café sans sucre", whereas tous les matins requires "il buvait". Finally, one tip that helps know whether one may use the Passé Simple or the Imparfait is to use the Passé Composé as a substitute. It is correct to say Hier matin "il a bu un café, but it is incorrect to say Tous les matins il a bu un café."
Subject: World History
How can you explain decolonization? Was decolonization successful? In what sense colonial history matters for World History?
Decolonization started in the early twentieth century, but really became a major phenomenon in world history after WWII. In order to explain this phenomenon, it is however necessary to provide a clear definition of both colonization and, logically, decolonization. In effect, scholars may not agree as to the relevance of these concepts. Some of them apply it to many more other dominance situation than the European early modern and modern overseas expansions. Hence, it is possible to wonder whether it is relevant to apply such concepts as colonization and colonialism to contexts like the Ottoman dominance over Greece and the Balkans, or to the case of Britain's yoke on Ireland - which dates back to the Middle Ages. Therefore, is it relevant to consider the formation of Yugoslavia or Greece's or Ireland's independences as part of the global decolonization movement? It may be safer, for now, to narrow the discussion to the emancipation of the overseas colonies that resulted from the conquests made by Europe since 1492. Given that it is possible to outline several phases of colonial expansions, it is possible to outline phases of emancipation. Generally speaking, it is possible to outline two main phases of emancipation. The first was that of the American colonies, starting with the U.S Independence War, continuing with the tentative of many Caribbean states like Haiti (1804) to get freed from France and England, and reaching its climax with the emancipation of the colonies of the Spanish Empires (1808-1833, even though Cuba obtains its independence in 1898). As Europeans were losing the Americas, they were starting to shift their expansionist views towards Asia (even though most European powers such as, besides Britain, France, The Netherlands, Portugal were already colonial powers in this area) and Africa. Lord Cornwallis was the one who had to surrender his army at Yorktown in 1781, thus concluding the independence war that founded the U.S:A. Meanwhile, the British East India Company was becoming the De Facto ruler of India; Cornwallis eventually serving as Governor General of India in 1786. In 1830, France colonised Algeria. Both powers continuously lurked on Egypt and Middle-East during most of the 19th century. But it was not before the years 1880s, when colonial ambition inserted in more complex imperialistic ambitions that European dominance knew another phase of expansion in the aftermath of the 'Scramble for Africa'. and the Opium Wars Consequently, this expansion soon met with resistances and proto-independentist movement quickly emerged in Asia and Africa and eventually started to have their voices heard after 1918. European Armies, especially British and French, had colonial regiments serving in WWI. Very often, Indian troops, Algerian Spahis, Zouaves and Senegalese Tirailleurs were sent in first line on the front. However, heroism did not result in racial discrimination, exploitation of indigenous work force and natural resources disappearing in favor of 'Western ideals' of freedom, democracy and progress. Indeed, European powers had brought Western education and modern infrastructures to the colonies. Yet, these were aimed at being ultimately useful for maintaining colonial dominance. But Western Education had unexpected side-effects: indigenous intellectuals who were at the confluence of both European and their native cultures started to question European authority and its pretension to dominate. They questioned the alleged superiority of the master race (it is important to remind that the concept of Aryan race was not a Nazi invention - Trautmann, 1997). Already before WWII, Egypt gained it formal independence, thus ending the British protectorate in 1922. In India, British rule was starting to decline due to the pressure of several independentist movements among which the Indian National Congress led by Nehru, together with the charismatic figure of the Mahatma Gandhi, will prevail. As to the French empire, native activism was already contesting France's presence in North Africa, and Indochina. Indigenous workers in the metropolis gathered in some kinds of trade union and socialist inspired movement like the North African Star movement. However, it was after the end of WWII that decolonization became (again) a global movement. Europe is on its knees, devastated by the war, it has lost its aura of prestige as it no longer rules the world and has left the skepter to the U.S.A and the USSR. In effect, European powers do not have the means to maintain their overseas dominance. Yet, in 1945, statesmen were not necessarily aware of this matter of fact. India gets its independence in 1947 (tragically partitioned with Pakistan), and Indochina gets rid from France after a war that lasted from 1946 to 1954. As the latter ended, the War of Algeria started and Algerians became independents in 1962. Britain loses its African colonies when Sudan (1956) and Ghana (1957) become independent; though not recognised the first declaration of Rodhesia (Zimbabwe) dates 1965. Meanwhile, Belgium lost Congo (nowadays RDC, also known as Congo-Zaire), and Indonesia had escaped Dutch control, during WWII; eventually, it became formally independent in 1949. Portugal lost Mozambique and Angola after terrible indepence wars that led to the revolution of 1974, ending the dictatorship of the Estado Novo. Although decolonization really ended in the 1999, with the restitution of Macau by Portugal, and that of Hong Kong by the U.K. It had its zenith between the years 1950s and 1970s. It was the end of the old imperial order, that resulted in the emergence of of a new one that was non-aligned with (n)either the U.S.A (n)or the U.S.S.R., the Third World. It had its own internal discrepancies: many postcolonial countries knew ravaging civil wars, economic hardship and humanitarian disasters. Many are still under the unformal influence of their former colonizer, and are only namely independent (eg., the Françafrique). Therefore, it is somewhat difficult to tell whether decolonization was a successful process of emancipation, or the substitution of a foreign power's dominance by another. On the other side, it is also possible to wonder whether - as Frederic Cooper thought - European countries truly became nations when the ceased to be Empires. From both the perspective of the former colonial rulers and the colonial, it is impossible to deny that Colonization and decolonization are part of a long duration historical phenomenon that has - beyond good and evil - contributed to further narrow the ties that bind different parts of humanity altogether.
Subject: European History
What are the causes of WWI in Europe?
WWI started in Europe before eventually spreading to the rest of the world. Moreover, if Europe was the main front where battles took place, there were more peripheral battlefield such as, for instance, the middle East or East Asia. Yet, WWI was predominantly a conflict between European powers, especially France and Britain versus Germany, even though, the decisive intervention of the U.S.A shifted the balance in favor of the Entente. In fact, WWI can be considered, according to British historian Eric J. Hobsbawm in his Age of Extremes: a History of the short 20th century, to be the beginning of a European Civil War which ended only with the final defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allies in 1945. It is important to stress the fact that there was more than one single causes of WWI. The first apparent cause of the first World War is the rivalry between France and Germany. The first wanted its revenge after the defeat in the 1870 was that resulted in the loss of the coal rich regions of Alsace and Loraine. However, this rivalry between the two neighbouring countries must be place in a broader context. In fact, it is important to highlight that intereuropean relations were fraught with utter imperial rivalries since the 1880s' scramble for Africa. In this context, European countries had been fighting each others in wars and conflicts of lower intensity, notably in Morocco during the Tanger crisis in 1905 and, eventually in 1911. The intereuropean rivalries led Europeans into the trap of alliances mechanisms that divided the continent in two blocks. On the one hand, were the countries forming the Triple Alliance (a German led coalition, with Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy, eventually defecting in favor of the Entente) which opposed those forming the Triple Entente (France, Britain and Russia). Besides overseas expansion, both blocks had informal imperialist interest in the Balkans, then under the yoke of the Ottomans - often called the 'Sick man of Europe'. Europe, as seen, was polarized in two antagonist blocks. The tension was palpable and the smallest spark would result in the continent - then the undisputed ruler over most parts of the globe - being at war. As mentioned, imperial rivalries resulted in a succession of diplomatic crises and smaller scale conflicts. But it was the assassination of the archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb activist named Gavrilo Princip on July 28, 1914 that achieved to exacerb the tensions between European powers. The same day, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. In response, Russia formally ordered mobilization in the four military districts facing Galicia, its common front with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On August 1, Germany declared war on Russia. Russia’s ally, France, ordered its own general mobilization that same day, and on August 3, France and Germany declared war on each other. The German army’s planned invasion of neutral Belgium, announced on August 4. This action prompted Britain to declare war on Germany. WWI was the result of imperial rivalries that resulted from the late 19th century expansion of European powers (besides Japan) in Africa and Asia. It was also the consequence of extreme nationalism, which the conflict would unfortunately increase in its aftermath. Finally, it can be argued, following George L. Mosse, that it was also a consequence of a culture of violence that portrayed others as mortal foes that had to be totally anihilated.
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