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Threat of Babel looms over EU - interesting article!
Thread poster: Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 13:24
German to English
+ ...
Feb 4, 2002

From today\'s newspaper (Feb. 4):



Threat of Babel looms over EU

Dominance of English raises dark mutterings






Alexander Rose

National Post



There are 11 official languages in the European Union; by 2004, after an influx of new member-states as the EU enlarges eastward, there are likely to be 21; a decade later, should the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, an independent Scotland, Ruthenia (now part of Ukraine), Catalonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Kosovo and Turkey join, the total could rise to 35.

Each country applying to join the EU is required to assent to the acquis communautaire, the compilation of principles, laws, practices, regulations and obligations developed over the past 50 years -- which now stands at 80,000 pages. Not only should you imagine (with horror) the kind of shelf-space 35 translations of that requires, but reflect how tricky it is to convey the nuances of precise legal, regulatory and bureaucratic terms into vastly different languages.



Oh, and by the way, each EU document usually needs to be re-drafted between 12 and 15 times before it is approved.



Then there\'s the money: the present annual cost of the European Commission\'s language service (not including the Parliament and Council) is about US$700-million.



European leaders are frightened of the dangers posed by this looming Tower of Babel. But there\'s a twist: in the Biblical story, divine punishment made men mutually unintelligible. According to EU laws sanctifying the equality of languages, damnation consists in making them equally comprehensible.



Last year, Neil Kinnock, the former leader of the British Labour party and Europhobe who turned his coat and became a European Commissioner, proposed the \"relay scheme.\"



EU documents would be translated only into English, French and German during the drafting process. They would be printed in all the official languages in the final version of legal acts, such as treaties, regulations and directives.



Interpreters, too, would translate only into one of the three \"working\" languages and thence into any given official language.



The Kinnock Plan was a no-hoper, even though -- or rather because -- 60% of EU documents are already drafted in English, compared with fewer than 40% in French and only 1% in German.



Worse still -- for French and German speakers, that is -- a new EU poll found that English is overwhelmingly the lingua franca of Europe, the Latin of the 21st century.



Medieval Latin benefited from belonging to no nation-state but to all tutored men, whereas English is the language of Britain, the most Euroskeptic of nations.



But what torpedoes any practical proposal to simplify the language matrix are the claims of France and Germany to working language status. Officials from these countries complained to Romano Prodi, the Italian President of the European Commission, about creeping \"unilingualism.\"



French diplomats were heard muttering darkly about Anglo-Saxon plots to undermine the EU, which remains essentially a Franco-German political and economic project.



Truth to tell, Paris and Berlin are right to complain, especially about the subversive Protocols of Anglo-Saxonism propagated by stealthily imposing English on Europeans.



If English were to be introduced as the sole, or even primary, working language of the European institutions, even the pretence of a \"Europe of Nations\" -- that is, an EU structured as a democratically audited association of autonomous nation states co-ordinating their individual economic, foreign, defence and social policies at the voluntary inter-governmental level -- would disappear.



Instead, the organization would be revealed in its true colours as a bureaucratically dominated, \"harmonizing,\" centralizing single state with one over-arching language.



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-02-08 11:15 ]


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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:24
German to English
+ ...
English already is the common language in Europe Feb 4, 2002

Thanks for the interesting article!

On the train from Amsterdam to Frankfurt/Main (Germany), I observed two giggling teenagers trying to get the attention of two guys. In the process, they noticed some language barrier between Dutch and French. Without any ado they all switched to English.

Changes happen, while some stuffed shirts and the arbiters of good language discuss. It will probably not be the Queen\'s English, High German or French.

People will speak some version of English to make communication work. It makes sense to me.



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xxxwilliamson
Local time: 19:24
Dutch to English
+ ...
Widespread Feb 5, 2002

How widespread and common is the use of English is in the new Member-States?



Due to historical reasons, French is the second language of Poland, Chopin\'s home-country. If the Polish ambassador to Belgium and via Belgium to the E.U. gives an interview, it is usually in French.



For the historical reasons, German is more widespread in the Czech republic. 100 years ago,Hungary used be a part of the Austrian empire and I guess that German is still widely used as a second language. In the Baltic States, English rivals with German as a second. To declare English as the one and only official language of the E.U. would be meet fierce opposition from the French. In all, not an easy choice.





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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:24
German to English
+ ...
People will learn, when it pays to do so! Feb 5, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-02-05 18:52, willivere wrote:

How widespread and common is the use of English is in the new Member-States?



Due to historical reasons, French is the second language of Poland, Chopin\'s home-country. If the Polish ambassador to Belgium and via Belgium to the E.U. gives an interview, it is usually in French.



For the historical reasons, German is more widespread in the Czech republic. 100 years ago,Hungary used be a part of the Austrian empire and I guess that German is still widely used as a second language. In the Baltic States, English rivals with German as a second. To declare English as the one and only official language of the E.U. would be meet fierce opposition from the French. In all, not an easy choice.







I remember growing up in Germany. Parents and teachers were telling us kids: \"Use GOOD German words!\"

Well, kids liked the bad English words, and that was it. (The Marshall Plan and rock music may have had something to do with it.) A decade later, English (ESL) became mandatory for all students in German schools. People will learn anything when it pays to do so.



I like your quote about Polish people. In Chopin\'s time, they were the most literate people in Europe and the most gifted in the use of foreign languages. All that potential will be part of the EU, I hope.

If English as a common language helps that cause, then I will not mourn the demise of the German language. The new generations will have to be pragmatic.

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Palko Agi  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:24
English to Hungarian
+ ...
beware of the "compulsory" common language Feb 6, 2002


\"100 years ago,Hungary used be a part of the Austrian empire and I guess that German is still widely used as a second language. \"





Well, actually, it is not so widely. English is taught much more widely but I would not say \"spoken\" - Hungarian people tend to dislike if they must learn a language. We still remember the 45 years of compulsory Russian learning.


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xxxBNatt
German to English
Never mind... Feb 7, 2002



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-02-07 19:50 ]


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