Should EU speak English ?

(Ironically, I’ll write this post in English)

A significant sign of the European diversity (to keep it positive) is certainly the number of languages spoken in the EU: 23 official languages and more than that in the daily life of the European citizens [*].

But what to do of all those languages when everything today is about Globish[*] ?

It’s a recurring problem in the European institutions, some officials complaining from time to time about the decline of their mother language in the debates, French not being the last about that. This is also a discussed question in the European Bloggosphere where reaching as much citizen as possible is an issue [*].

As I mentioned in Le Taurillon myself, the plurality of the languages is a problem for the press to expand to an European level, leaving Union matters ine the hand of national medias ; though some website like PressEurop and CafeBabel try to address this issue.

In the last days, some remarks has been made about the mainly English-speaking commission team[*,*], Representative Ashton English-Only language skills, and some poor English commissioners[*].

As a French living in an American speaking country, I’d like to give my personal and humble opinion, which focuses on the understanding of the words more than the value attached to the use of one language or another. I personally hate having to listen to somebody whose English is marked by a strong accent making the words hardly understandable or making use of a very bad choice of words or with a bad grammar. Same thing for the use of French. Though, I don’t mind mixing the two languages when it’s appropriate and well done.

My advice to EU officials and relatives: don’t use English if you’re not a good English speaker. The translation service of the Union is here to take care of that, make the best use of the language you speak the best.

The language issue should not be political, it’s not even a cultural issue as long as the communication means is just that, a communication mean. Multilingualism is definitely a huge plus for somebody working in a European environment, but this should not be critical.

If you’re English (or German, or Italian, or Maltese) is good enough, use it, if it’s not, don’t. It’s as simple as that.


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