So, what language does the European Union speak? Until a decade ago, the answer would probably have been "mostly French", though English was already gaining ground. Today, with a dozen countries more keen on speaking Shakespeare's language as a second or as a working tongue, "Europeans now overwhelmingly opt for English", writes The Economist.
According to the British newsmagazine —
The European Union conducts ever more business in English. Interpreters sometimes feel they are speaking to themselves. Last year Germany’s president, Joachim Gauck, argued for an English-speaking Europe: national languages would be cherished for spirituality and poetry alongside “a workable English for all of life’s situations and all age groups”. Some detect a European form of global English (globish): a patois with English physiognomy, cross-dressed with continental cadences and syntax, a train of EU institutional jargon and sequins of linguistic false friends (mostly French). In Brussels “to assist” means to be present, not to help; “to control” means to check, rather than to exercise power; “adequate” means appropriate or suitable, rather than (barely) sufficient; and mass nouns are countable, such as advices, informations and aids. “Anglo-Saxon” is not a historical term referring to Germanic tribes in Britain, but a political insult followed by “capitalism” or even “press”. Ordinary Europeans got a first taste of Euro-globish in the televised debates among leading contenders for the European election on May 22nd-25th. The idea of the main European political groups picking “Spitzenkandidaten” to become the president of the European Commission is a novelty (and has created Brussels’s first German neologism in years). It is meant to close the democratic deficit, stir excitement, arrest the fall in turnout and check the rise of anti-EU parties.
Read the full story on The Economist's website.
Receive the best of European journalism straight to your inbox every Thursday
Was this article useful? If so we are delighted! It is freely available because we believe that the right to free and independent information is essential for democracy. But this right is not guaranteed forever, and independence comes at a cost. We need your support in order to continue publishing independent, multilingual news for all Europeans. Discover our membership offers and their exclusive benefits and become a member of our community now!