For Jeff Tennant, it is a tribute to a career he fell into, after falling in love with the French language in his teenage years.
Earlier this year, the French Studies professor was awarded the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of Academic Palms), recognizing Tennant’s work in French phonetics and sociolinguistics, alongside his dedication to fostering shared learning and intercultural relations with France.
On Nov. 30, Marc Trouyet, the Consul General of France in Toronto, will present the French insignia of Knight of the Order of Academic Palms to Tennant at a reception in the Dr. David S.H. Chu International Student Centre.
“It really means a lot. It’s an honour to be recognized for contributions to French culture, particularly through the promotion of international relations between Western and French universities,” Tennant said.
The Ordre des Palmes Académiques is an Order of Chivalry of France for academics, cultural and educational figures. Originally, it was a decoration founded by Emperor Napoléon to honour eminent members of the University of Paris. In 1866, the scope of the award was widened to include major contributions to French national education and culture made by anyone, including foreigners.
Tennant, whose work focuses on phonetics and sociolinguistics, is Chief Negotiator for the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA), having served in the past as Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities and Chair of French Studies. He is the former editor of the Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, and his research interests are primarily in the area of Ontario French and the French of Anglophone learners of French as a second language. Since 2009, he has been a collaborator on the PFC project (Phonologie du français contemporain) and since 2010, on the IPFC project (Interphonologie du français contemporain).
“The passion I have for French language and culture developed very early in my teens and it determined the direction of my studies and eventually, my career,” Tennant said, crediting a Grade 9 French teacher for sparking his interest.
“That passion led me to be involved in teaching and research on the French language, and also developing exchange and study abroad programs. And studies and teaching at universities in France, and the diversity of the French speaking world, have really helped me build on that passion,” he added.
“The values of France – liberté, égalité, fraternité – have had an important influence on the values of the world and those values are being challenged. It’s important to uphold them in the face of forces trying to destroy them,” Tennant said, referencing the recent attacks in Paris for which the Islamic State has taken credit.