What is the official language of the European Union?

Easterner   Friday, August 06, 2004, 12:46 GMT
Jordi, thank you for the information. Actually my remark about the Celts and Gypsies was meant to be ironic. I am aware that all Indo-European langugages can be traced back to a common "ancestor", but now there are systematic differences between them. Having learnt some comparative linguistics myself, I'm rather sceptical about Celtic and Indian languages sounding similar. I mentioned Lithuanian because there have been studies that actually showed some morphological structures being similar to Sanskrit, but I think you have to study the whole language structure to establish a close kinship. And Celtic or Lithuanian and Indian languages are certainly no more than remote cousins to each other.

Actually there is also much speculation about Hungarian being related to ancient languages like Sumerian or Scythian, or even Japanese, and a lot of people take this for granted. It has certainly been influenced by some other language families, but the basic words are of Finno-Ugric origin, therefore its kinship is an established fact. Of course it may hurt some people's pride that their language is related to some "obscure" tongues spoken in Siberia or near the Arctic polar circle, but that's of course beside the point.
Easterner   Friday, August 06, 2004, 15:05 GMT
Actually I have found some reading concerning (Irish) Gaelic and Hindi. Some of the words look strikingly similar but I still doubt that speakers of one language can understand the other without previous learning. Besides, with mutually intelligible languages both morphology and syntax should be much the same, as is the case e.g. with Dutch and German.

You can check it out here:

Jordi   Friday, August 06, 2004, 15:18 GMT
I had a quick look at that page and many of those striking coincidences work for most Indo-European languages, including English, Catalan or others. Don't you have the language that short list also works partially for Slavonian languages?
I have reached a conclusion why the Irish can understand only 50% of Punjabi radio. The reason is that it's very difficult for them to understand the Indian accent of English. I would imagine that the Punjabi English speakers would only understand 50% of the Irish variety of English. After all, they were both part of the British Empire for a very long time and English is widely used, in the media, both in Ireland and India. Maybe it was all English, after all, although they had a feeling they were hearing another language. ;-)
Jordi   Friday, August 06, 2004, 15:20 GMT
Don't you have the feeling... (not "don't you have the language). Sorry.
Easterner   Friday, August 06, 2004, 16:06 GMT
Jordi, that is much like what occurred to me too :-). Though I would put it the opposite way: I have seen some films in Hindi (with subtitles) of the popular variety and they were crammed with English expressions that cropped up all the time. So I can imagine that it is very common to use English expressions (maybe in a modified form) in everyday speech.
Criostóir   Friday, August 06, 2004, 17:52 GMT
I have to concur with Jordi....Ceaser's postings do seem weird for a 16 year old Skye native.

And not to sound rude or anything, but the Gàidhlig seemed a bit off in one of your posts, which wouldn't really be the case if you were a native speaker.

Is amhlaidh, cén scéal? What's the deal?
Criostóir   Friday, August 06, 2004, 18:02 GMT
Regarding the Irish/Hindi connection...

sure, they're both Indo-European languages, but that's really where most of the similarities end. The page that Easterner provided a link for stretches a lot of linguistic notions.

It is true that modern day Lithuanian and Latvian speakers can get the gist of some Sanskrit stuff. But Hindi has developed a long way from Sanskrit. Sanskrit had three genders, ten verb classes with fully conjugated forms for three persons (singular, dual and plural) in all tenses, plus extensive conditional/optative systems and even secondary conjugations (desiderative/frequentative/denomative/causative). Modern Hindi, while keeping much vocabulary and the devanagari script of Sanskrit, has a markedly different syntax and grammar. Where Sanskrit was highly inflectional, like Russian, Anc. Greek, or Latin, modern Hindi is more similar in structure to an isolating language like Chinese, where particles and their position in syntax determine meaning. Irish Gaelic does employ some particles in syntax and verbal formation, but it seems unfortunate that many people who "study" Irish seem to get only a basic understanding of morphology. I always see webpages where people talk about the "tá + verbal noun" formation. This is real Irish and important in the language, but it has only specific uses - in other cases, you must use the conjugated form of the verb in its proper tense. So claims that Gaelic speakers can understand spoken Hindi/Punjabi/Marathi/Gujarathi/your Indic language here are false, unless they've somehow learnt it at school.

If you want a good look at Irish grammar online (though I'm afraid it explains Irish in German), check out Gramadach na Gaeilge at


Slán go fóill,
Ceaser   Saturday, August 07, 2004, 04:51 GMT
Dear All -

I did not completely say that I understood all of Hindi or any other Sanskrit-Based tongue, I meant that I understand bits and pieces of words in the language. Criostoir is right in that Gaelic and Hindi bare no real relation to eachother. Maybe I am just picking up the English influences in Hindi, or my knowledge of other languages has helped, I am not exactly sure. As for the part where I wrote about The Celts coming from India, maybe I am wrong. The Celtic languages are another branch from the Indo-European tongues, but who knows. As for me coming from Scotland, it is true, yet I should remind all that I spent a large chunk of my life in Japan, because my mother insisted I recieve a better education. Why Japan, I am still not quite sure. France, Germany and other European countries offer outstanding education systems, and are closer. Yet, I do have the advantage of an Asian language.

As for my Gaelic, I admit, even though I am a native speaker, I do not write or read at the same level as most others in Gaelic. I went to a Gaelic medium school for a few years, but as soon as I went to Japan, I tried to forget everything and assimilate into the Japanese culture. I no longer use Gaelic unless I am speaking to older family. English is my dominant language, and Japanese is my second. I no longer go to a Gaelic medium school, I go to an English school. I am not sure. As patriotic as I seem, I am really slipping away from it under the surface. I have lost the Gaelic / Celtic identity, and I am more Asian than anything. I get quite lazy in terms of using Gaelic! I intend on going back to Japan where I have a decent future.
Mark Fisher   Monday, August 09, 2004, 09:53 GMT
What is the point of Gaelic and Welsh, English is the world language, spoken in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Africa and Asia and will very soon be the official language of the European Union, despite what the French and Germans may say. I have been to North Wales and Western Ireland and have found people very ignorant speaking in a language they knew I couldn't understand. Give my a good reason these outdated languages ( which should be extinct like Cornish, Manx and Breton) should be still spoken. I look forward to the day they are gone and I can travel to Paris, Vienna and Berlin and have English as the official language there.
nic   Monday, August 09, 2004, 09:59 GMT
Mark Fisher,

If it happens, you will be dead, your son and their son....will be 2.
English won't never be an the official language in France, for a simple reason : they will enjoy to meet guys like you.
Jordi   Monday, August 09, 2004, 10:46 GMT
The only reason I can give why Welsh and Irish are still spoken is because there are Welsh and Irish people who feel at home and you're a foreigner in their land, whether you like it ot not. I agree with Nic that I wouldn't speak a word of English to people like you although my English is probably as good as yours. One thing is English as an international communication tool and another is colonialism of the worst kind. Why should I speak to my wife, children, family and firends in English just because you happen to have long ears and want to find out about other people's conversation? Look I speak Catalan with my people even if there are Castilian Spanish speakers in the crowd. You'd be surprised at how much all these languages have contributed and will contribute to mankind. My two young children speak four languages. How many languages will you or your children speak? You ignorant bugger.
Jordi   Monday, August 09, 2004, 10:47 GMT
friends, of course.
Juan   Monday, August 09, 2004, 12:04 GMT
To Mark Fisher:

<<and have found people very ignorant speaking in a language they knew I couldn't understand.>>

Jordi wrote:
<<Why should I speak to my wife, children, family and firends in English just because you happen to have long ears and want to find out about other people's conversation?>>

My sentiments exactly. What business is it of yours to understand what I am saying in public/private conversation with someone else in my native tongue/anyone else's tongue? I don't get this sort of attitude. Do you think people are actually talking about you? Get over yourself. You are not that important that people would actually go to the trouble of wasting their precious time speaking about you.
Criostóir   Monday, August 09, 2004, 13:33 GMT
Tá seanfhocal ann sna Gaeltachtaí na hÉireann:
There's a proverb in the Irish speaking regions in Ireland:

"B'fhearr Gaeilge briste ná Béarla cliste"

= Better broken Irish than perfect English.

Ní imeoidh an Ghaeilge, an Ghàidhlig, an Briotánais agus an Bhreatnais as an domhain ach nuair a gheobhaidh gach Éireannach, Albanach, Briotánach is Breatnach an bás.

Only when every Irishman, Scot, Breton and Welshman are dead will Irish, Gaelic, Breton and Welsh be gone.
Ceaser   Monday, August 09, 2004, 14:03 GMT
Dear who ever you are -- Mark Fisher,

It is an attitude such as yours which is causing the death of so many languages to begin with. English has killed off and taken over too many languages, through force. Do you think that the Gaels of Ireland, Wales, Mann, Cornwall or Scotland wanted to learn English to begin with? Absolutely not! English was shoved down their throats to the point that if a word of Gaelic, Welsh, Irish etc. was heard in school, you were severely punished! That is why us Scots, Irishman, and Welshman are speaking English as of now, while our original tongues are resricted to the western seaboard of Ireland, and the Highlands of Scotland, where the English could never reach us! As it is, where the English have taken over in the past, the modern languages spoken in those countries (i.e. Hindi, Arabic, Thai etc.) have soo much English influence. The Arab world thankfully fixed that by creating Arabic words for every English technical term which existed!

The Irish were not being ignorant! In fact, they are using something which was stolen from them, a basic right, for over a century. You will find the same if you get up into the Higlands of Scotland. We are speaking Gaelic because we know we can now. We know that we won't be beaten or hurt in school if we speak Gaelic. If you went to China, and they spoke only Mandarin or Cantonese to you, would you say that they are being IGNORANT and that they should use English?

If you went to Quebec in Canada, would you say the same about the French-Canadians? An officiall bi-lingual country would not appreciate the fact that one would only encourage the first language. Besides, for your information, Irish Gaelic is the first official language of Ireland! It is used in government, and it is a compulsory subject in school, unless you go to an IRISH MEDIUM SCHOOL!! So get that! They have an equal right to speak Irish as you do English, because now both have equal status!