German as a world language

Steve K   Saturday, August 07, 2004, 21:52 GMT
Is it possible that the Baltic and Eastern Europe could become a zone where German is the lingua franca?
Random Chappie   Sunday, August 08, 2004, 00:22 GMT
"Now [central and eastern Europe's] new language of choice for the 21st century is percolating upwards through the education system, and downwards from the business and political elite. It will be English, studied by three out of four secondary-school pupils from the Baltic to the Balkans."

- The Economist, 5 August 2004.

Read the full article at
Random Chappie   Sunday, August 08, 2004, 00:24 GMT
Another excerpt from the same article...

"Only in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia does the proportion of secondary-school pupils studying German come anywhere close to the proportion studying English; and nowhere in the region is German the top choice."

- The Economist, 5 August 2004
Budvar   Sunday, August 08, 2004, 15:35 GMT
Pity that! (but convenient nevertheless). I have come to the same conclusion myself. I regularly have to speak to people from Hungary and Poland. The younger the person the more likely it is he will only speak English. Middle aged people speak German and old people have got some smatterings of Russian (which they usually hate).
Vroobelek   Monday, August 09, 2004, 08:22 GMT
Steve, no chance for that. At least in Poland, English is definitely the first foreign language to learn. German takes second place, but the average level is much lower. Learners just don't find motivation to dive deeper into German. What I find surprising is the fashion to learn Spanish among some young people.

German is harder to learn, and in this part of Europe still has certain historical connotations.

garans   Monday, August 09, 2004, 10:40 GMT
In our schools pupils learn English, German an French.

French is less popular than German because of economical reasons. But taking into account beauty of the language and the culture of France I would not give preference to German. 50/50
Easterner   Tuesday, August 10, 2004, 07:43 GMT

I also like French more as a language, though I equally appreciate French and German culture, with all their differences. My experience is that here in Hungary there is a very strong influence from German-speaking countries, and actually there is a growing sentiment (at least in the west of Hungary) over Hungary, Austria and Bavaria sharing a common cultural heritage (for example, the wife of King Stephen or St. Stephen, the first crowned king of Hungary, was a Bavarian princess, and since then there have been very close ties with this part of the former German empire). And there are many people who have descended from German settlers (it is enough to take a look at a telephone directory of Budapest), therefore they keep alive the ties with Germany or Austria. So I expect German will persist in Hungary as a foreign language, although English is the most widely learnt foreign language here too, at least among young people. On the other hand, very few people seem to learn French, which I think is a pity (on the other hand, it is interesting to see that more and more people are learning Spanish or Italian).
Marie   Tuesday, August 17, 2004, 07:34 GMT
When I first heard German, it sounded like english spoken with german words. I'm not a language master, but it's as though there an exponential amount of travelling back and forth between Germany and England in comparison to, say, France and England, way, way back in time... and sometimes one can pick out certain words in German and have an idea of what it may mean in english. Just an observation.
Damian   Tuesday, August 17, 2004, 07:50 GMT
Historically, the link betwen English and German is much stronger than that betwen English and French due to the Anglo-Saxon influence. Anglo-Saxon is associated with England, and anything Anglo-Saxon is typified as English. They were originally a Germanic tribe who settled in Britain from the 5th century and were dominant here until the Norman conquests in about the 11th century. It set the basis of Old English, and is therefore very influential in the modern English language. Over the centuries differences branched out but basically that is the historical reason why English and German are closer than are English and French. The Normans in turn asserted their own influence to some extent in the future development of English.
Damian   Tuesday, August 17, 2004, 07:53 GMT

The term Anglo Saxon is now used to mean profanity......using rich and very explicit "bad" language.
Marie   Tuesday, August 17, 2004, 09:48 GMT
Very interesting, Damian. The history of the connections makes perfect sense. French is a difficult language to master, to me, german may be easier. People learning to speak english seem to grasp english quicker, but then, it is all around us too. When people know French, it's so much easier to learn Italian, spanish and portuguese type languages, and vise versa amongst speakers of those languages.
Mi5 Mick   Tuesday, August 17, 2004, 10:00 GMT
"The term Anglo Saxon is now used to mean profanity......using rich and very explicit "bad" language."

How do you mean Damian? In the French media, we always hear the word Anglo-Saxon to mean anything English-speaking, especially the US and Americans.
Damian   Tuesday, August 17, 2004, 11:31 GMT

I will explain more fault. You are quite right..the term Anglo-Saxon means English or English speaking. Of course the Americans and the US generally are referred to by the French media as Anglo-Saxon for the language connection. Anglo-Saxon nowadays basically means any person or culture whose native language is English and whose cultural affiliations are common to Britain and the US, and any other English speaking country.

However, what I meant in regard to the profanity issue is that the term Anglo-Saxon can be, and is, used in an informal sense when the English language is used in plain speaking involving profane or taboo words. That is the case here in the UK anyway, I really don't know about anywhere else. For instance, if someone feels indignant about something another person has said, he or she could be tempted to respond strongly by saying: "I feel like using a few Anglo-Saxon terms here!"
Mi5 Mick   Tuesday, August 17, 2004, 12:43 GMT
I hadn't heard it. In other words: "excuse my French" :)

It could be something new in light of "reverse PC".
Damian   Tuesday, August 17, 2004, 13:29 GMT
I guesss you are right, Mick. Talking of PC, I think this country is being ruled by it now and it's getting insane. I tend to be outspoken and it's difficult stepping out into the PC minefield. To me PC should remain a guy wearing a blue uniform and a helmet.