What is the official language of the European Union?

Markus   Friday, July 30, 2004, 10:16 GMT
European language should and will be of course german!
Ceaser   Friday, July 30, 2004, 13:54 GMT
I don't think German will ever be the European Language, I think it will be the three most popular languages used in North, Central and South America, and about 50% of Africa besides Europe. German is Restricted to four countries, versus Spanish, English and French which are contiental languages. French covers most Africa as a common tongue, next to Arabic, and it the first official language of Belgium, Canada, two countries in South America, Vietnam(second official), Haiti etc. besides France. While is is also the third offical language of Switzerland. Spanish is spoken entirely by Mexico and the South American continent (even the Portugese speaking Brazilians speak Spanish fluently)! English is the international language, next to Russian and Chinese. English is the language of the UK, Ireland, Canada, The United States (Well, I question their English) and the rest of North America. English is the second language of many other countries as well, Holland, the Scandinavian countires, Thailand and even the Germans and Italians study English! So I highly doubt that German will have enough power to become the European tongue! Even Russian has more power than German and it is restricted to the former Soviet Union, the Chezk Republic, and even the North Koreans must study Russian as their second language! Yes, German may have power, but it seems like nothing compared to English, French and Spanish!
nic   Friday, July 30, 2004, 14:06 GMT

French is an official language for Quebec only, with all my respect
Easterner   Friday, July 30, 2004, 14:57 GMT


Referring to one of my earlier posts, I also think that although German will never become a world language like English, Spanish or French, it can become a major player in Europe, especially in the East. I don't think you can say it is "restricted" if it is spoken in four countries. In Western Hungary at any rate there is strong influence from Austria (and also Germany), and before Soviet rule was imposed on East Europe it used to be a lingua franca between countries that did not have any other common language. And given the influence of Germany in Europe, the language can also keep some of its earlier impact. Besides, much of what constitutes European literature was written in German, from Goethe to Thomas Mann and beyond. Of course we shall see what the situation will be in ten years or so, but I don't think German will be entirely displaced by English as an "international" language.
Damian   Friday, July 30, 2004, 17:25 GMT
In 1999 I went with a school party to Romania to see a total eclipse of the sun. A very interesting fact was that all of the young people (say under the age of 30) spoke and understood English. Very few over that age did, but many spoke and understood German. I think that during the Communist regime there, until 1990 or so, the learning of English was forbidden, but that was not the case with German.
Ceaser   Saturday, July 31, 2004, 14:09 GMT
Yes, German, like Russian seemed to be the common tongues of the people. At one point, and I am not sure if this is still true, but the Polish as well had to learn German in school. Yet I guess as communism and the German influence collapsed, I guess so did the amount of German use.

Russian has had the same sort of rise and fall. During the Soviet reign, the Soviets made sure that they had everyone and their neighbours speaking Russian. Even the Finnish, North Koreans, Estonians and Chezcks had to learn Russian. The Soviet countries had to use Russian. Russian was the language of media, education, business and government. Still this is so. In the Ukraine for example, Ukranians have the option of going wither to a Russian medium school, or a Ukrainian medium school. Yet if you go to a Ukranian medium school, you must study Russian right up to University level.

German at one point (especially during WW2) was the language of Europe. In a sense, it was forced down their throats. The polish spoke German, the French, the Dutch, anyone who was invaded my Hitler quickly learned German to survive.

Now, English is the second language of choice for over three quarters of Europe, and in the middle east (next to French). The Soviet countries are the only exception. Yet the power of German and Russian will never die, and French and Spanish are the same way.
garans   Saturday, July 31, 2004, 14:21 GMT

I think you are misinformed about learning Russians in the Ukraine.
Many people dont like to study Ukranian and are enforsed to study it.

Russians are disfranchised in many countries because of the native languages they are enforsed to learn.

English as a second language is a good sensible choice.
I've never had problems in communicating in English in Europe.

There are difficulties in English-speaking countries, but it takes time to get used to accents and special fluency.
Easterner   Saturday, July 31, 2004, 17:20 GMT
I have been pondering over the popularity of English, and now I feel that it has been so popular partly because for many people, at least those suffering under dictatorships in East Europe, it was not associated with any oppressive power, therefore most people have regarded it as a "neutral" or "universal" language (I don't mean former British colonies, of course). As for myself, I used to have this feeling of being part of an universal culture when I immersed myself into the study of English back at university.

Now I think this is changing, mostly because of the rising tide of anti-American sentiments, and because people are beginning to re-discover the local languages in continental Europe. What I see in my country at least is that more and more people are learning French, Italian and Spanish, besides English and German, and even Russian may become more popular in the future than it is now. One reason for this is that these nations have been part of each other's history which is not the case with Anglo-Americans, who are "strangers" in the sense that they share a different heritage. This is reflected in everything from the use of everyday measurements up to the legal system.
Easterner   Saturday, July 31, 2004, 17:50 GMT
Now I have re-read my last post I have to make a slight correction: of course I was thinking about Eastern Europe mainly, because for example France and Britain have been to a large extent part of each other's history. But I do maintain that Britain, though of course historically part of Europe, has only had an indirect cultural influence on the rest of Europe, and vice versa (even the English language was imported to Europe via America and not so much via Britain).
garans   Saturday, July 31, 2004, 18:04 GMT

Russian has a long history of influence of German, French and English. Some Italian and Dutch.
The influence was in culture and science and speaded through the upper part of society.

Two hundred years ago there were noble women who knew French better than Russian.
My father is fluent in german - he worked 3 years in Germany in times of Soviet Union.

I myself can not get German or French - I forget them at once. I tnink English is easier to remember. Though some phrases are easier to speak in German, like Das ist wunderbar!
Ceaser   Sunday, August 01, 2004, 04:35 GMT
I have an odd and kooky idea, instead of people bickering over which language should be the language of Europe, why not solve the problem by using a language that is uncommon to all of Europe, like Esperanto or Klingon! Then there is no arguement over hertiage, importance or "my people are better than yours"!
Easterner   Sunday, August 01, 2004, 07:44 GMT

I think Esperanto would be a good choice because it's easy to learn and has a very logical grammar with no irregularities. I have even seen people advocating it as a first foreign language to learn for children because of this. The question is if Esperantists will have enough influence to make this an option. For one thing, I have seen it used in railway timetables besides English, German, French and Russian, so why not make it an option to provide Esperanto translation at conferences as a first step? There is quite a large amount of literature translated into Esperanto, so I think it is suitable for official use as well.
Ceaser   Sunday, August 01, 2004, 15:33 GMT
At this point: I am working at a global scale, not just European. My main second language is Japanese. When I got the oppertunity to live there for seven years, I was extremely lucky and I took full advantage by getting my parents to place me into a regular, rather than international school. If I wanted to become bi-lingual, I needed to be immersed in Japanese twenty-four seven. What is the purpose of going to live in Japan, if you are educated in English?

Anyway, after talking to many Candian Interpreters (I lived in Vancouver for a while too), those who interpreted between French and English claimed that they did not earn half as much as if you did English and an Asian Languge (i.e. English and Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Punjabi, Hindi, Farsi or Arabic). This I assume is due to two reasons. The population of Asians to Europeans is ten to one, and the Japanese are the businessmen of the orient.

I also felt that Russian and Arabic would be extremely benificial because they are two of six official United Nation Languages (English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese). Russian is both very expressive and gets very technical. My primary goal is to master technical and governmental (law) russian besides the everyday language.
selenium   Sunday, August 01, 2004, 15:38 GMT
Damian : i'm so glad your mom appreciates me.. i try to do my best to be sweet & tasty so it's nice when i get nice feedback ;)

Others & Damian : you're my little budies, ya' all

PS : Hurray for August finally here !!!
Easterner   Sunday, August 01, 2004, 19:18 GMT
Ceaser, I think your efforts are worthwhile. I am a little familiar with Mandarin Chinese and would like to make myself more proficient, but I really think that you must first learn to speak it fairly well before venturing to learn the written variety. Same with Japanese or Arabic. By the way, may I ask you which variety of spoken Arabic is normally taught to foreigners, or in other words: is there something as "standard spoken Arabic"? Or does it depend on where your teacher comes from? I know this is a little off topic, but I'm just curious...