What is the official language of the European Union?

Dulcinea del Toboso   Sunday, July 25, 2004, 09:01 GMT
Welcome, Easterner! I am half-Hungarian myself (my father and his family were born there). I wish I could speak and write Hungarian as well as you write English, which is very good.
Easterner   Sunday, July 25, 2004, 09:51 GMT
Üdvözöllek, Dulcinea! Gondolom, jártál már Magyarországon. Melyik országban élsz?

(Greetings, Dulcinea! I suppose you have been to Hungary. Which country do you live in?)

By the way, I started learning English when I was eight, and it is to a great extent my second language now. I use English as a necessity and a good way to communicate with people all around the globe, but I feel much refreshed when I switch to French or German.

I think that Hungarians at any rate will have to become multilingual in the future, because nobody understands our language in Europe :-). For those who may not know, it is distantly related to Finnish and Estonian, but they are as different as let's say Spanish or Russian - the two opposite ends of the family tree. And it has borrowed a lot from the Slavic languages around it, and also from Turkish, Latin and a bit from German, therefore it is in a way the English of Eastern Europe :-).
Easterner   Sunday, July 25, 2004, 10:12 GMT
Dear garans,

I think what you say is partly true, but you can achieve good proficiency in a language by being exposed to original spoken or written materials as much as you can. I started to learn French at school and at first we did nothing else than memorising and practicing on nursery rhymes and simple songs for about a month. With German it was different, I learnt it almost completely by reading, and it was a bit difficult to start speaking it, but being exposed to written texts with characteristic phrases or idioms helped me a lot. As for accent, it does not matter if you have a foreign accent, as long as they understand you. Most speakers of a language are ready to help you when they see that they make an effort in speaking their language. And be assured, sometimes people speaking different variants of English often have comprehension problems when they try speaking to each other (at least when they use their own regional dialect).
Easterner   Sunday, July 25, 2004, 10:19 GMT
I mean *you* make an effort at speaking *their* language.
vincent   Sunday, July 25, 2004, 15:27 GMT
Jo napot kivanok!
I totally agree with you, we must be multilingual to face english dominance.Moreover, multilingual persons are more open-minded that one-language speakers.
M'agrada saubre que t'interessas per l'occitan.Osca! Poiriem solaçar dins la lenga nòstra si vòls.Saps, aqui en França i a gaire de mond que s'i interessan, la lenga occitana moris pauc a pauc.
A lèu!
vincent   Sunday, July 25, 2004, 15:28 GMT
Sorry, I forgot writing that the last message was for Easterner.
Ceaser   Sunday, July 25, 2004, 16:10 GMT
How wonderful of you to join Easterner from Hungary, it is sad though that the only publicity Hungary gets is relatated to a broken economy, like Romania. I am of Russian background myself, and of Scottish background. I am a 16 year old student who satrted learning English at the age of seven. Scottish Gaelic is my first language, Russian surpisingly is my second, and English and Japanese are my third and fourth and Arabic is my fifth.

It is unbelieveable how much Russian has helped me on my journies through the Baltic countries. I spent one year in School in Kiev, so I am fluent in Ukrainian as well. I must say though, I am amazed that Russian has not had the same influence in Hungray as it has in all of the Former Soviet Union and Chezckoslovaika. I never at any point considered learning German primarily because I knew I could survive on English. I know that German has had extreme influence in Romania. It is interesting though, you may ask about my fourth language, Japanese. If you are wondering, I spent five years of School in Japan because my mother thought that an Asian language would benifit me, and because Japan has one of the best education systems in the world. So, 日本語をぺらぺらをします!I wish with my languages to become an Interpreter. I am extremely fluent in Arabic due to the Immersion method. My private teacher who comes ffrom Palestine, is strict about me speaking Arabic. I am taught only in Arabic. This is because it is almost impossible if not completely impossibe to practice Arabic on the Isle of Skye!

I just wish to ask you, why not learn Russian. Interms of how useful it is, and how close you are to a Soviet State, Russian would most benifit you because ALL children in the former Soviet Union still have to study Russian in school, or attend Russian speaking schools and learn their language (Ukrainian, Uzbek etc.) as a second language.

PS: to those who speak Italian and French, can you explain to me why, even though they are both latin based, SOO different from eachother? At least a Spanish person can have a fighting chance at understanding Italian, French speakers cannot. Why is this?

Tapaedh Leabh!
Easterner   Sunday, July 25, 2004, 19:48 GMT
Caesar, I am amazed at the mix of cultures you represent :-). Are you Scots Gaelic from your mother's or father's side? How many people use Scots Gaelic on the Isle of Skye?

About Russian: in fact I started learning it a few years ago, but I have not been able to use it actively, therefore a refreshment would be welcome. It is funny though that Russian used to be compulsory in Hungary for over forty years (as in all Eastern European countries), but nowadays most people have completely forgotten what they learnt at school. Poland is another example (though their language is much closer to Russian, which they are reluctant to admit). I think this happened because it was imposed from outside (however, I know some people who have become lovers of Russian language and culture). Traditionally German was the first foreign language used in Hungary, due to political and economic reasons, and also because a great number of people here have German roots. I did not like it much earlier, but I came to like it when I learnt that it can be very expressive and it is also more exact than English. I have some German and Austrian friends and I never use English with them.

I will now try to answer your question about French in short, according to my best knowledge: French was very heavily influenced by the Germanic language spoken by Franconians. Sometimes I feel that phonetically it is more Germanic than Romance in character (its sounds are quite similar to Dutch, which derives from Old Franconian, with its high-tongue vowels and guttural "r"-s). Also it has borrowed much more Germanic words than any other Romance language, therefore it is not less a mix than English. Occitan is one step closer to original Latin, and represents a link between Piedmontese, French and Catalan.
Ceaser   Monday, July 26, 2004, 01:48 GMT
Dear Easterner,

I am sad to say that the statistics on Scots Gaelic are very sad. There is a rapid decline in use of Gaelic, to the point where it is now restricted to the Highlands and Isles of Scotland, and Cape Breton Nova Scotia, in Canada. Fortunately, the population of speakers living on the Isle of Skye and Lewis is still over 80%. What is even better is that more than half speak Gaelic as their native tongue, like I do. It is sad that only now has Scotland started to take action towards keeping and reviving the Ancient tongue. Scotland opend it's first Gaelic medium school ten years ago and now there are more than fifty Gaelic medium units across Scotland. I am in a Gaelic medium Secondary school to keep my first language as strong as my second. The University of Edinbourough and Glasgow now have Gaelic / Celtic departments for those who wish to get their degree's in Gaelic or Irish. I wish to recieve my Masters or PhD in Gaelic language and literature in the future. Scotland now has a Gaelic Television Channel, and two Gaelic Radio Staions (BBC Alba). Gaelic also is starting to gain power within Scottish Parliament, yet does not have official status as Irish does in Ireland. It saddens me to no end though to see the attitudes of younger people towards Gaelic. People would rather go for French and German than learn an "old-fashioned" tongue.

It is amazing that the amount of native Gaelic speakers is still high, versus in Ireland where almost all Gaelic speakers speak Irish as their second tongue, but have embraced Gaelic / Gaelige as if it were their own tongue. My mother's family have been Gaelic / Gaidhlig speakers since the dawn of time, and now I wish for my own future children to have the gift of Gaelic as their first language. There are few of us left, but if we have a psoitve attitude towards it's revival, then soon enough it could be as popular as French, Spanish, German, Itailian and English.
Damian   Monday, July 26, 2004, 07:02 GMT
<< The University of Edinbourough>>

Jordi   Monday, July 26, 2004, 07:54 GMT
Ceaser or Teaser?
nic   Monday, July 26, 2004, 11:11 GMT
to caeser :

I am afraid it's the opposite, french can "easily" understand italian, they are both closer than spanish. Of course there are some diffenreces.
French and italian are phonetically and grammaticaly closer for 92% (especially sardianian & french) french and spanish only for 82%
nic   Monday, July 26, 2004, 11:12 GMT
If you are interested about it, you can read Curzio Malaparte : "Why french and italians are cousins?"
Clark   Monday, July 26, 2004, 11:28 GMT
I think most people give too much credit to the Gaelic spoken in Nova Scotia. From most accounts, I have read that it is barely spoken by the older generation, and when they do speak it, it is to conceal information from the younger generation.
Ceaser   Monday, July 26, 2004, 14:02 GMT
Gaelic is not thriving in Nova Scotia as mutch as it is in the Highlands of Scotland. Damian: Yes, the University of Edinborough has a Gaelic Department. It is amazing how much we are doing to help Gaelic though, the Scottish Parliament Website is even bi-lingual. New media programmes and even a newspaper have helped the spread and gain popularity amoungst Gaelic. The new Gaelic medium education also producing a new breed of Gaelic speakers, many of whom who come from English speaking families, showing a positive attitude amoungst the English community as well. Ireland has done amazing work to keep Irish alive, yet Irish has lost it's true purity. Sadly, there are few native Irish speakers left, the majority living in Dongeal and Sligo. In Scotland, more than three quarters of the Gaelic speaking community are native speakers of the ancient tongue. Many more parents on the Isle of Skye are choosing to give the language to their children, and won't expose them to any english until they go to school. Many Gaels go to Gaelic medium education as well so that we are able to express ourselves as strongly in Gaelic as we do our second and more dominant language, English.