What is the official language of the European Union?

bud   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 10:38 GMT
To Adam:

"So other people need to learn learn English cos it's far more important"

My siblings have good jobs and they cannot speak English at all.

Other people can speak English and have bad jobs.

"The dominance of the English language continues"

Perhaps you might say " The dominace of Bad English continues"
Damian   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 11:12 GMT
<<And Britain isn't the only one. Denmark, Sweden and Greece also don't have the Euro>>


You are not quite correct....Greece DOES have the euro. You are also correct when you say the UK never will diss the quid for the euro.

If English becomes a "dominant" language it will only be because foreigners WANT to learn our language.....nobody forces them to do so, least of all the Brits themselves, who basically, in the main, don't give a toss what other people do or do not do, it's up to them. To most Brits it doesn't matter to them if Swahili or Creole or whatever becomes the EU's official lingo.

<<By 2030, Britain will be the only European country to still be a member of the EU>>

I'm not sure what you mean by that to be honest, mate. By 2030 the UK is the one country most likely by far to have left the EU by then. The UK is definitely a country that resents being told what to do by unelected bureaucrats, that's for sure. I assume you're British as well, so you must be aware of those "rising stars" UKIP? It must mean something when they get more votes in a by-election that do the Conservatives.

<<Brits don't learn other languages is because they don't need to>>

In a nutshell, yes...that's true....sad reall, but there you go. With English gaining ascendancy on the world stage it breeds such arrogance, I reckon. The Americans (except in Spanish speaking areas) are no better I'm sure. I have spoken several times to a guy from Iowa whose German great grandparents emigrated to the US yonks ago but his knowledge of German is zilch. I know more than he does.
Adam   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 16:26 GMT
bud Sunday, October 03, 2004, 10:38 GMT
To Adam:

"So other people need to learn learn English cos it's far more important"

My siblings have good jobs and they cannot speak English at all.

Other people can speak English and have bad jobs.

"The dominance of the English language continues"

Perhaps you might say " The dominace of Bad English continues"

I'm talking about generally. Obviously, you don't need to speak English in every job. If you want to know how important English is, read the first post in this thread.

English has been the most important language in the world for years, fsr more important than languages such as Spanish or Dutch, therefore less need for Brits to learn another language.
Adam   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 16:28 GMT
I'm not wrong. Greece does NOT have the Euro.

Eurozone members
Adam   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 16:31 GMT
I meant you should read the first post of the thread entitled "The dominance of the English language continues."
Adam   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 16:32 GMT
An Economist passage in the Seoul Times -

Sunday, October 3, 2004, 01:36

A World Empire by Other Means
English Becoming The New World Language

The new world language seems to be good for everyone &#8212; except the speakers of minority tongues, and native English-speakers too perhaps.

It is everywhere. Some 380 million people speak it as their first language and perhaps two-thirds as many again as their second. A billion are learning it, about a third of the world's population are in some sense exposed to it and by 2050, it is predicted, half the world will be more or less proficient in it. It is the language of globalization &#8212; of international business, politics and diplomacy.

It is the language of computers and the Internet. You'll see it on posters in Cote d'Ivoire, you'll hear it in pop songs in Tokyo, you'll read it in official documents in Phnom Penh. Deutsche Welle broadcasts in it. Bjork, an Icelander, sings in it. French business schools teach in it. It is the medium of expression in cabinet meetings in Bolivia. Truly, the tongue spoken back in the 1300s only by the "low people" of England, as Robert of Gloucester put it at the time, has come a long way. It is now the global language.

How come? Not because English is easy. True, genders are simple, since English relies on "it" as the pronoun for all inanimate nouns, reserving masculine for bona fide males and feminine for females (and countries and ships). But the verbs tend to be irregular, the grammar bizarre and the match between spelling and pronunciation a nightmare. English is now so widely spoken in so many places that umpteen versions have evolved, some so peculiar that even "native" speakers may have trouble understanding each other. But if only one version existed, that would present difficulties enough.

William Shakespeare
Even everyday English is a language of subtlety, nuance and complexity. John Simmons, a language consultant for Interbrand, likes to cite the word "set," an apparently simple word that takes on different meanings in a sporting, cooking, social or mathematical context &#8212; and that is before any little words are combined with it. Then, as a verb, it becomes "set aside," "set up," "set down," "set in," "set on," "set about," "set against" and so on, terms that"leave even native speakers bewildered about [its] core meaning."

As a language with many origins &#8212; Romance, Germanic, Norse, Celtic and so on &#8212; English was bound to be a mess. But its elasticity makes it messier, as well as stronger. When it comes to new words, English puts up few barriers to entry. Every year publishers bring out new dictionaries listing neologisms galore. The past decade, for instance, has produced not just a host of Internettery, computerese and phonebabble ("browsers," "downloading," "texting," and so on) but quantities of teenspeak ("fave," "fit," "pants," "phat," "sad").

All are readily received by English, however much some fogies may resist them. Those who stand guard over the French language, by contrast, agonize for years over whether to allow CD-Rom (no, it must be cederom), frotte-manche, a Belgian word for a sycophant (sanctioned), or euroland (no, the term is la zone euro). Oddly, shampooing (unknown as a noun in English) seemed to pass the French Academy nem con, perhaps because the British had originally taken "shampoo" from Hindi.

Albion's Tongue Unsullied

Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong's Aberdeen Harbour
English-speakers have not always been so Angst-free about this laisser-faire attitude to their language, so ready to present a facade of insouciance at the de facto acceptance of foreign words among their cliches, bons mots and other dicta. In the 18th century three writers &#8212; Joseph Addison (who founded the Spectator), Daniel Defoe (who wrote "Robinson Crusoe") and Jonathan Swift ("Gulliver's Travels") &#8212; wanted to see a committee set up to regulate the language. Like a good protectionist, Addison wrote:

I have often wished that ... certain Men might be set apart, as Superintendents of our Language, to hinder any Words of Foreign Coin from passing among us; and in particular to prohibit any French Phrases from becoming current in this Kingdom, when those of our own stamp are altogether as valuable.

Fortunately, the principles of free trade triumphed, as Samuel Johnson, the compiler of the first great English dictionary, rather reluctantly came to admit. "May the lexicographer be derided," he declared, "who shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language ... With this hope, however, academies have been instituted to guard the avenues of their languages...but their vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain ... to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are equally the undertakings of pride."

Pride, however, is seldom absent when language is under discussion, and no wonder, for the success or failure of a language has little to do with its inherent qualities "and everything to do with the power of the people who speak it." And that, as Prof. Jean Aitchison of Oxford University points out, is particularly true of English.

It was not always so. In the eastern half of the Roman Empire, Greek remained the language of commerce, and of Christians such as St. Paul and the Jews of the diaspora, long after Greek political supremacy had come to an end. Latin continued to be the language of the church, and therefore of any West European of learning, long after Rome had declined and fallen. But Greek and Latin (despite being twisted in the Middle Ages to describe many non-Roman concepts and things) were fixed languages with rigid rules that failed to adapt naturally. As Edmund Waller wrote in the 17th century,

View from Victoria Peak by night on the harbour and Hong Kong Island
Poets that lasting marble seek, Must carve in Latin or in Greek. We write in sand, our language grows, And like the tide, our work o'erflows. English, in other words, moved with the times, and by the 19th century the times were such that it had spread across an empire on which the sun never set (that word again). It thus began its rise as a global language.

That could be seen not just by the use of English in Britain's colonies, but also by its usefulness much farther afield. When, for instance, Germany and Japan were negotiating their alliance against America and Britain in 1940, their two foreign ministers, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Yosuke Matsuoka, held their discussions in English.

But however accommodating English might be, and however much of the map was once painted red, the real reason for the latter day triumph of English is the triumph of the English-speaking United States as a world power. Therein lies a huge source of friction.

Damn Yanks, Defensive Frogs

French people in Paris
The merit of English as a global language is that it enables people of different countries to converse and do business with each other. But languages are not only a medium of communication, which enable nation to speak unto nation. They are also repositories of culture and identity. And in many countries the all-engulfing advance of English threatens to damage or destroy much local culture. This is sometimes lamented even in England itself, for though the language that now sweeps the world is called English, the culture carried with it is American.

On the whole the Brits do not complain. Some may regret the passing of the "bullet-proof waistcoat" (in favor of the "bullet-proof vest"), the arrival of "hopefully" at the start of every sentence, the wholesale disappearance of the perfect tense, and the mutation of the meaning of "presently" from "soon" to "now." But few mind or even notice that their old "railway station" has become a "train station," the "car park" is turning into a "parking lot" and people now live "on," not "in," a street.

Others, however, are not so relaxed. Perhaps it is hardest for the French. Ever since the revolution in 1789, they have aspired to see their language achieve a sort of universal status, and by the end of the 19th century, with France established as a colonial power second only to Britain and its language accepted as the lingua franca of diplomacy, they seemed to be on their way to reaching their goal. As the 20th century drew on, however, and English continued to encroach, French was driven on to the defensive.

One response was to rally French-speakers outside France. Habib Bourguiba, the first president of independent Tunisia, obligingly said in 1966 that "the French-language community" was not "colonialism in a new guise" and that to join its ranks was simply to use the colonial past for the benefit of the new, formerly French states.

His counterpart in Senegal, Leopold Senghor, who wrote elegantly in the language of Moliere, Racine and Baudelaire, was happy to join La Francophonie, an outfit modelled on the (ex-British) Commonwealth and designed to promote French language and culture.

French people in Paris
But though such improbable countries as Bulgaria and Moldova have since been drawn in &#8212; France spends about $1 billion a year on various aid and other programmes designed to promote its civilization abroad &#8212; French now ranks only ninth among the world's languages.

The decline is everywhere to be seen. Before Britain joined the European common market (now the European Union) in 1973, French was the club's sole official language. Now that its members also include Denmark, Finland and Sweden, whose people often speak better English than the British, English is the EU's dominant tongue. Indeed, over 85 percent of all international organizations use English as one of their official languages.

In France itself, the march of English is remorseless. Alcatel, the formerly state-owned telecoms giant, uses English as its internal language. Scientists know that they must either "publish in English or perish in French." And though one minister of "culture and the French language," Jacques Toubon, did his utmost to banish foreign expressions from French in the mid-1990s, a subsequent minister of education, Claude Allegre, declared in 1998 that "English should no longer be considered a foreign language ... In future it will be as basic [in France] as reading, writing and arithmetic."
Adam   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 16:33 GMT
So learning another language isn't important to British people, as they speak the world's foremost, dominant language.

Swedish or Norwegian won't be much use to us. The reason why most Europeans can speak English is because, as the dominant language in the world, they need to.
Steve K   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 16:50 GMT
A person who speaks more than one language has grown beyond his/her village. Such a person has taken steps to connect with people from elsewhere who share his/her life on this planet. Such a person is a fuller human being. Having learned one new language, it is soon obvious that more can be learned. With more than one language one can travel elsewhere, see new vistas, come into contact with new ways of thinking, share different foods, drink and fellowship. The more languages one speaks the more fully one participates in the banquet of life.

Adam, English alone will limit you to drinking beer and playing darts with your boring neighbour no matter where you find yourself in the world. But I guess that is your choice. To each his own. Enjoy your tribe.
Sanja   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 17:09 GMT
Whether we like it or not, English is used whenever people from different countries have to communicate with each other and it will remain the most important language. But I really hate those arrogant native English speakers who say we should all adopt English as our official language just to make it easier for them. We should cherish our own languages and cultures, but also respect other people's languages and of course learn English as the most important language.
Sanja   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 17:11 GMT
"Adam, Sunday, October 03, 2004, 16:28 GMT
I'm not wrong. Greece does NOT have the Euro."

Yes it does, I'm 100% sure.
Le loup et l'agneau   Sunday, October 03, 2004, 19:47 GMT


these have been members of the Eurozone since 01/01/1999.

Greece, on the other hand, has been since 01/01/2001.

Guess your source(s) isn't/aren't up to date.
bud   Monday, October 04, 2004, 10:22 GMT
to adam

The truth is that I don't care that English or French is the international. I suppose that both the Brits and the Americans will be very happy for it, but most people feel nothing special about your language, as long as we can earn dollars.
Easterner   Monday, October 04, 2004, 15:03 GMT
>>With more than one language one can travel elsewhere, see new vistas, come into contact with new ways of thinking, share different foods, drink and fellowship. The more languages one speaks the more fully one participates in the banquet of life. <<

Well put, Steve! That's precisely why I like learning new languages, despite being a rather shy person. As I see it now, my horizon would be hopelessly narrow if I spoke just one. It is just a natural state of humans to be multilingual (all or at least most empires of the past were like that: for example, all educated Romans were supposed to speak and be literate in Greek as well). This has changed in the last 200 years or so, with the advent of nation-states. Knowing that there are ways of thinking different from your own is likely to make you immune to petty chauvinistic pride (and will incidentally make you value your own culture better, as you will see it as part of a greater whole).
Steve K   Monday, October 04, 2004, 15:51 GMT

"Knowing that there are ways of thinking different from your own is likely to make you immune to petty chauvinistic pride (and will incidentally make you value your own culture better, as you will see it as part of a greater whole)."

Wholeheartedly agree.
Adam   Monday, October 04, 2004, 23:32 GMT
The disproportionate central government disbursements to the
Celts have startling consequences. For example, the official
publication for health statistics for 1997 gives NHS per
capita spending of &#339;381 in England and &#339;595 for Scotland, a
difference of 56%. This discrepancy resulted in the numbers
(proportionate to population) of medical and nursing staff
being 19.14% and 31.7% higher in Scotland, while there were
a barely credible 95% more hospital beds in Scotland than in

But the money which the Celts receive from England does not
merely pay for the difference between what is spent per
capita on domestic projects (welfare, education and health
etc) in England and what is spent on domestic projects in
the rest of the UK. Tax revenues in Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland are, proportionate to population,
considerably lower than in England. For example, the latest
published figures (Inland Revenue Statistics 1998) for income
tax collection show that in the tax year 96/97 the following
average revenue per head was collected in the various parts
of the UK: England (&#339;3060), Scotland (&#339;2596), N. Ireland
(&#339;2300), Wales (&#339;2170). In percentage terms Scotland has 84%
of England's income tax revenue, N.Ireland 75% and Wales 70%.

It is dubious whether Scotland could fund from its existing
tax revenue, ie the revenues collected in Scotland, a
domestic expenditure equivalent to the lower English rate.
Wales and Northern Ireland definitely could not. Thus England
is not merely paying for higher per capita domestic public
spending in the Celtic Fringe, but subsidizing that portion
of Celtic domestic spending which is equivalent to that in
England. Let me illustrate that with an example. Suppose
English domestic expenditure per capita is &#339;100 and that in
Wales is &#339;116. English taxpayers will not only pay the &#339;16
difference, but a proportion of the other &#339;100 spent in
Wales. The lower tax revenues also mean that the Celts make
a lesser proportional contribution to those matters of
national importance - the armed forces, diplomacy and so
forth - than the English.

To these easily quantifiable benefits may be added a
disproportionate Celtic share of government subsidies to
bribe firms into setting up factories on inappropriate sites
and a large share of public jobs not related to domestic
Celtic affairs. Scotland, for example, administers much of
England's social security, PAYE and schedule D tax and has a
disproportionate number of army regiments; Wales plays host
to the Vehicle Licensing Centre; Ulster contains the Short

The benefits the Celts receive from their association within
the UK extend to the intangible but inestimable advantages
of free trade with England and the assurance which being part
of a prosperous and advanced nation state of fifty eight
million gives foreign investors and companies. Most
importantly for small peoples, the Celts receive the
protection of the British state, which would be nothing
without England.

That is the existing situation. It could rapidly change to
England's advantage. It is dubious whether tax revenue in
Scotland, Ulster and Wales could be sustained at their
present levels if an English Parliament was established. The
removal of English subsidies would significantly reduce
expenditure immediately. Companies would be less likely to
situate themselves in Scotland because of reduced grants.
Public service jobs would reduce as England repatriated work
dealing with English people and issues. Defence expenditure
would be concentrated in England. The result would be
increased unemployment and soaring welfare demands. It is
also probable that the more able and better qualified Celts
would emigrate, largely to England.