Joint French-Israeli research activity in the new field of applied language and several other areas will be made possible with the signing last week of an "historic" agreement of cooperation between the University of Haifa and the Sorbonne in Paris.
Sorbonne president Prof. Jean-Robert Pitte, an expert on wine, made his first trip to Haifa to sign the agreement with University of Haifa president Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze'ev. The French and Israeli universities will work on joint projects in the areas computational linguistics, French and Hebrew travel literature, music, the environment, and applied language. This last, offering a pluralistic approach to language, applies language to different areas, such as banking, insurance, business. The Haifa university will be the first in Israel to work in the area.
As the two institutions are not science oriented, Pitte said there was need to apply cultural and human viewpoints to various science areas, such as the environment and computers.
It was Pitte's talk on wine that held the Haifa audience's attention. The French wine industry, he said, needed more diversity if it was to meet the challenge from other countries. Declaring the French wine industry in trouble because of good vineyards in many countries around the world, including Israel, Pitte called for winemakers to concentrate on what he called terroir , or geographical wine. This wine gave "the taste of the place," he said, and contrasted it with what he called "technological wine," which has uniform taste, no matter when or where produced. "Wine," he continued, "needed nuance and complexity and diversity."
He invited the University of Haifa audience to visit his university. "There is always something for you to drink when you come to the Sorbonne," he quipped.
Pitte said that Frenchmen could buy a good wine from Chile for two euros in Paris, but that it cost more than that to make French wine. The best solution for good wine, he said, was both quality and diversity, adding that these were characteristics that stimulated the brain.