What is the official language of the European Union?

vincent   Friday, September 24, 2004, 22:25 GMT
Now we have a Constitution.But what does it say about the official language of the european institutions? Is it english? Moreover each political construction try to establish among its citizens a sentiment of identity. What is the language of the european identity? English, latin, esperanto, old greek..??? And why not euskera (basque) which is according to Theo Vennemann (professor of germanistic) the oldest language of Europe.
Bertolomi   Friday, September 24, 2004, 22:28 GMT
En 2004, l'Union Eropèèna vint ples granta et avouéc y at les èlèccions eropèènes. Tot de mémo, lo problèmo linguistico trove p'oncor de solucion, mas il est cachiê per una fôssa variètât de lengoues que favorise solament les três lengoues les ples pouessientes. D'ense, on risque d'alar vers una dominacion linguistica, et finalament una lengoua solèta que metrat en grâvo dangiér la divèrsitât de lengoues et de cultures de l'Eropa. Vê-que porquè los èspèrantistos avouéc sotegnont lo principo d'una lengoua-pont comena (et nan pas unica) netra, que pèrmetrêt un rèspèct de l'ègalitât de totes les lengoues por fâre fonccionar la dèmocracia eropèèna.

Vê-que cen que vise l'organisacion d'una manifèstacion dens tota l'Eropa por la dèmocracia linguistica dens l'Union. Ceta accion vôt surtot fâre prègiér des fôrmes de lengoues de l'Eropa, de la façon la ples lârge possibla (permié lor dens tota la prèssa), por que tot lo mondo pregne conscience de ceti problèmo… et a la fin pôt-étre fâre rebugiér los rèsponsâblos politicos dens ceti afâre. Por aventar ceti objèctif, nos devens étre lo ples grant nombro et de totes les colors por la mèlyore èficacitât. Ceta iniciativa vint des èspèrantistos et de totes les associacions d'èspèranto en Eropa, que vont sè chargiér d'enformar dens lors règions ou payis por cen qu'est de ceta accion.

Lo nom de la manifèstacion EUROPA BUNTO vôt dére "tot plen de colors dens l'Eropa". Cen montre lo biès de féta por ceta manifèstacion colorâye sur la divèrsitât linguistica.

Ceta manifèstacion rassemble donc :

totes les associacions eropèènes d'èspèranto ;
totes les associacions que dèfendont ou encorajont les lengoues et les cultures por rèspèctar la divèrsitât linguistica ;
et totes les ôtros pèrsones que sont tochiêes, conscientes et entèrèssiêes per ceta situacion linguistica de l'Eropa.
Mxsmanic   Saturday, September 25, 2004, 03:25 GMT
The European Union does not have a single official language, as this is politically unacceptable to most of its constituents.
blank   Saturday, September 25, 2004, 05:38 GMT
I'm pretty sure the official languages are English, French, German and I heard somewhere Greek as well, but I'm not sure. English for sure though. In the end (many years down the road) though I'm guessing English will take over. This is an unbiased opinion. It all comes down to economics and 1/3 of the world can already speak English as a first second or third language. The British government spends over 1 billion dollars a year just translating official documents from the over 200 languages of the EU. This does not even include private institutions. So one day some countries are just going to have to swallow their pride and adopt another language as their official one (sorry France). Having that many languages is just too costly. Anyway, this was a long semi answer to a short question. sorry
khan   Saturday, September 25, 2004, 08:53 GMT
I suposse it would be Bad English
Nico   Saturday, September 25, 2004, 15:00 GMT
The OFFICIAL languages are: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish (maybe also Catalan in the future, since it's spoken by more people than more than half of these languages). The WORKING languages include English, French and German.
As for the British government paying for translating stuff, does this mean the rest have to switch to English in order to save money to the UK? NO. Besides I'm sure the money for translation must be one tenth of the money the UK makes selling English learning materials to the rest.
200 languages in the EU? NO, not even half of that.
Adopt another official language besides ours, to satisfy the British? NO WAY.
Learning English so we can communicate with the rest of the world? OK
blank   Saturday, September 25, 2004, 15:31 GMT
I didn't mean to imply that England was the only country that mattered. I just meant to imply that if the costs are that high for England just imagine how much it must be costing Europe as a whole to translate documents into each of their national languages. The number of translators at EU meetings is mind boggling. Its just not an efficient way to do business. And as for 200 languages, I'm afraid I'm sticking with that number. They may not be official languages, but there are over 200 of them if you include dialects and especially with the new EU expansion. But your right, the main reason for adopting English would be to appease the rest of the world, not England.
jarc   Sunday, September 26, 2004, 13:27 GMT
To blank

English is just a business for the English and Americans.
Jim   Monday, September 27, 2004, 06:47 GMT
Pay a handful of translators a handful of Euros (or Pounds). So what? It's not going to break the bank. Compare this to the cost of wiping out a good proportion of European culture.
blank   Monday, September 27, 2004, 15:28 GMT
I would hardly call 1 billion dollars a handful. Its more than 1% of their GDP and that's alot. And like I said, that's just the UK. I'm not saying that English will be the first language of Europe, but if they continue to move towards a "United States of Europe" (not my words) as they have been then I think English will have to be mandatory in schools at least. They're even talking about having a unified military. How will this be possible if all the soldiers are speaking either French, German, or English? I don't want anyone to think that I'm happy about the other languages taking a back seat. I think it sucks, but its only logical.
Big Daddy   Monday, September 27, 2004, 15:33 GMT
You know, I'm getting really sick and tired of hearing all these Europeans wine and complain about their language and their culture all the damn time. For centuries the Europeans have been wiping out languages and cultures in the Americas and Africa and they never thought twice about it. Maybe its time they get a taste of their own medicine.
Easterner   Monday, September 27, 2004, 23:20 GMT
Concerning the original question, the official languages are those as listed by Nico. The working language is increasingly and predominantly English. As this thread is a reincarnation of an earlier, very long one back in July and August, I would refer those interested to the earlier discussion about this subject.

Personally I think that on the long run it will be very difficult to keep up the present practice of translating everything into all languages. In the wake of the latest expansion it is already difficult to find the right people for certain language combinations (I mean, how many Lithuanian-Maltese translators do you know?). So some languages will sooner or later have to be given preference over others. My personal guess is that they will be English, German and French (in this order of importance), if not English alone (though there are serious differences in English proficiency between northern countries such as Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and Danemark and southern ones like Spain, Italy and Greece, with France being somewhere in between). German is at any rate the second most widespread foreign language after English in most if not all of the new, eastern EU countries (at least among young people, for older ones German is the only one they speak with some fluency, besides rare instances of Russian). At least this is so in Hungary, where I live. So what I expect is that some languages will emerge as natural lingua francas in different regions, and on the long run the official language policy of the EU will reflect this fact.

There may also be a possible compromise: translating all official documents into the official languages of the member countries (by native translators), and using two or three working languages at meetings or conferences.
Jim   Monday, September 27, 2004, 23:53 GMT
A billion dollars, hey, Blank. Can you back that up or did you just pluck a figure out of the air? I mean ... the UK spends a billion dollars ... dollars? You might not have noticed but they use pounds not dollars in the UK.
blank   Tuesday, September 28, 2004, 03:01 GMT

In college I took a "History of the English Language" course and one of our reading assignments was the book "The Mother Tongue" by Bill Bryson. In it there are more facts about the English language than you can possibly imagine. The facts that I am quoting are in chapter 12 pg 188. Actually now that I am looking through the book I see that it was $700 million USD back in 1987 so you do the math. However, today the British gov't does make a substantial amount of money on English teaching material, to the tune of 500 million pounds. Unfortunately other countries do not have this luxury of income (pg 183). The author is American so most of the figures are in dollars, sorry.

Oh and over here we eat quarter pounders instead of royals, ya know, cus of the metric system.
Mi5 Mick   Tuesday, September 28, 2004, 06:11 GMT
>>...just imagine how much it must be costing Europe as a whole to translate documents into each of their national languages. The number of translators at EU meetings is mind boggling.<<

I know... LOL@ the EU!