Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd May 2008 20:52 UTC, submitted by irbis
In the News One of the biggest problems facing the European Union today is the fact that within its borders, 23 languages are spoken. This means that all the important documents have to be translated by a whole army of translators, which costs the taxpayer more than 1 billion Euros a year - and companies trading within the EU spend millions more. The EU-funded TC-STAR project aims to tackle this issue with technology: a system that eats speech in one language, and outputs that same speech in another.
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What's the problem?
by Vinegar Joe on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:23 UTC
Vinegar Joe
Member since:
2006-08-16

Can't the EU simply mandate a common language? If not, why not? What's to stop them?

Reply Score: 1

RE: What's the problem?
by jdrake on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:26 UTC in reply to "What's the problem?"
jdrake Member since:
2005-07-07

Speakers of 23 different languages, I suspect. Which one do you chose? Would you presume to say that a single language is universal?

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: What's the problem?
by noamsml on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:34 UTC in reply to "RE: What's the problem?"
noamsml Member since:
2005-07-09

esperanto. Duh.

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by orfanum on Sat 3rd May 2008 10:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
orfanum Member since:
2006-06-02

Well, linguistic reformers get, well, reformed by others who think that their constructed language is better - hence not only is there Esperanto but Ido, and furthermore Interlingua and Atlango (the latter being one that I quite like the look of, although Esperanto admittedly might be, overall, the best bet for both Intra-European and International commmunication). There's a host of 'universal languages' at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_auxiliary_language)

I would say that the TC-STAR project and 'universal' languages miss the point. It's sort of like saying that we should all communicate better using mathematical symbols or other abstract signs (such as BlissSymbolics), since these are at a higher level of thought, happily unconstrained by the cultural baggage that apparently causes such misunderstanding.

The problem with this in my view is that the relationship with the abstracted or universal languages is purely instrumental and detached.To learn Italian or German or French or Chinese or even for me, a Brit, Canadian or American English, is to learn and understand the very culture of living breathing people. There will not be an effective universal language the learning of which will bring natural understanding of others until we have an enforced global mono-culture and a system of enforced global ethics. Does that sound good to anyone?

If we spent as much time and investment in secondary and tertiary education on several already existent languages as we do on intellectual ephemera such as Media Studies or Post-Modernism, we would achieve a lot more real understanding of others than any language reform might achieve, 'neat' though the prospect sounds.

(Edited for typos)

Edited 2008-05-03 10:15 UTC

Reply Score: 8

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by irbis on Sat 3rd May 2008 13:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

Esperanto? Only if you would like to ruin the whole EU as fast as possible... ;)

It would take decades, maybe a century of active teaching and other work throughout the EU before enough people would speak the language fluently, and it would have to be a mandatory language taught at least in higher education (which would, of course, narrow the time that could be used for learning other languages). Too many people would protest that kind of spending of resources. Too few people already speak Esperanto.

Esperanto was a fashionable idea in the first decades of the 20th century but has since then lost a lot of its popularity. There are still some active hobby users of the language but only about 10000 people in the whole world speak it fluently and maybe 100000 can use it actively ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto ) It is also the opinion of many language experts that Esperanto has been replaced by more advanced, and easier international languages like Interlingua, just like Esperanto replaced the more primitive Volapuk before it.

Esperanto has many oddities that should have no place in a supposedly easy to use international language - like the use of many diacritical marks (breve, circumflex) above basic letters, increasing the amount of letters. Heck, I don't even know where to get a breve using my keyboard...It would be rather impossible to write esperanto using most current keyboards. The (odd) Esperanto alphabet: a b c ĉ d e f g ĝ h ĥ i j ĵ k l m n o p r s ŝ t u ŭ v z.

Interlingua would be a far better, more easy-to-use artificial language but it would, naturally, still have many of the same problems with Esperanto.

Choosing a few major languages as the official EU languages could be a good idea if only people could agree on those languages (easier said than done...). English would be a natural choice, but what about the others? German and French? But what about Spanish and Italian that have lots of users too? Or the Scandinavian languages that are most closely related to each other making understanding between them easy? Why no Slavic and Eastern European languages? We would quickly run into political arguing.

Anyway, I think that using English as a kind of de facto international language may already be the reality in many international organizations, including the EU.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by sbergman27 on Sat 3rd May 2008 15:25 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

It would take decades, maybe a century of active teaching and other work throughout the EU before enough people would speak the language fluently,

You dropped your credibility right there. It takes a hundred years to learn a language? Gee, what are we sub-centenarians to do? Mime?

While English is haphazard and irregular enough that it could conceivably take a century to master, languages like Esperanto and Interlingua are easy to pick up. It's all the many exceptions and irregularities in a language that are hard to learn.

A good natural language is like a good programming language. It makes easy things easy, and hard things possible. English makes easy things hard and hard things nearly impossible. And every time someone new takes on the task of learning it, yet more wasted effort is incurred memorizing huge collections of irregular verb conjugations, lists of irregular plurals, etc. Do you double the final consonant before adding this suffix to that word? How about this root and that suffix? 'I' before 'E'? Oh, that's unless it's after a 'C'... except here, here, and here, where it's not.

And all that so that they can "communicate" in a language which is inherently more prone to facilitating miscommunication. A language in which the word 'beg' has become its own antonym.

I am a native English speaker. And even I cannot recommend expanded use of that language. And I can only assume that anyone who does has loosed their mind.

Edited 2008-05-03 15:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: What's the problem?
by irbis on Sat 3rd May 2008 16:10 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: What's the problem?"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

It takes a hundred years to learn a language? Gee, what are we sub-centenarians to do? Mime?

An individual may not need many years to learn a new constructed language, of course. But I was not talking about individual learning but about the wide enough adoption of the new constructed language throughout, say the EU, in this case. One might need to use force too as many would oppose such a decision and see it only as a waste of resources better used elsewhere. I was just talking about political realities.

I do agree that an international auxiliary language - constructed to be to be easy to learn and use - could be ideal - but maybe only in theory. We still don't have such a common easy-to-use language widely adopted anywhere in the world despite many decent proposals. Why? Because in real life it could just take too much effort to make such a constructed language used and understood widely and well enough for it to reach the necessary stage of adoption.

Personally - I would have nothing against wider usage of Interlingua, Ido or Esperanto (those being the three most used constructed auxiliary languages to this day). However, I doubt whether majority of people, even only in the European politics, would agree.

We need to see the realities. People just see it more useful to learn and use widely spoken natural languages than an artificial constructed language used by only a few thousand people so far.

Adopting Esperanto or Interlingua as the official EU language would not just mean that a few diplomats had to learn to language (and learn it really well), but also much other work would be necessary. We would still need lots of translators (very fluent in the new auxiliary language) as all the EU decisions and discussions would have to be translated into tens of other languages for non-speakers people to understand. (And it would sure take a century before most Europeans would understand Esperanto fluently even if force was used..). Journalists etc. would have to learn the new language too - and not just the basics but advanced language too. Many EU officials would eventually insist having also software in the new auxiliary language instead of English or other language that they may not speak natively. Etc. etc. etc.

A good international auxiliary language could make a lot sense in many cases - but in reality its wider adoptions could mean too much work - which is exactly the reason why that has still not happened and may never happen.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: What's the problem?
by jmoylan on Sun 4th May 2008 05:07 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: What's the problem?"
jmoylan Member since:
2008-05-04

irbis, you seem to have a positive view of the benefits of a neutral international language for Europe. Although I don't think anybody is denying the political difficulty implementing this, hopeful people like you can make the impossible possible. The fall of the Berlin wall seemed impossible, as did the creation of the European Union, the adoption of the Euro and the metric system, yet with time they have been widely adopted (although admittedly the metric system took a lot longer). So keep your hope alive!
I think it is absolutely critical that international communication in Europe respects the linguistic diversity within Europe. It is not fair that the language of 12% of Europe's population becomes the lingua franca for all. Additionally, the number of people who speak English as a second language (and the highest estimates put this figure at less than half the population) would include only the intellectual elite in Europe, that is business people, academics, politicians, diplomats, high-ranking public servants etc. This figure is higher in urban areas than in rural areas.
With regards to your estimation of the number of Esperanto speakers, Linstedt's estimate might be nice and round (1000 native speakers, 10,000 fluent speakers, etc.) but it's certainly not based on much more than a guess. It's certainly not true that 10% of fluent speakers of Esperanto are native speakers, and my experience is that native speakers comprise only a tiny proportion of Esperanto's speaking population - we are talking about an interesting phenomenon, but certainly nothing more. While there is little doubt that there are around 1,000 native speakers of Esperanto (it wouldn't be hard to form a rough list), there are far more than 10,000 fluent speakers of the language, and far more than 100,000 who can speak it actively. Esperanto speakers are concentrated in Europe (especially Eastern Europe), China, South America, the Middle East and parts of Africa, so the proportion of speakers would be higher in Europe.
I agree that it doesn't matter whether Interlingua or Esperanto is widely used in Europe, if it is to be a neutral language. Unfortunately, Esperanto is the only non-ethnic language to have gained speakers in the hundreds of thousands. There would be only a few hundred fluent speakers of Interlingua, a thousand at the most. Volapuk never gained a wide following either, and it took only a few years for most of the Volapuk clubs in Europe to adopt Esperanto (Volapuk being an a priori language). Having attempted to learn both Interlingua and Esperanto, I am fluent in Esperanto but I found Interlingua harder for a range of reasons (admittedly, I only spent about ten hours trying to learn Interlingua). My basic comparison is that Interlingua has many irregular verb forms, declensions, a more complex alphabet and other irregularities that Esperanto does not have. It's main advantage seems to be that clever native speakers of Latin-based languages can understand the language without having to learn it (and this is true, I am a native French speaker and could understand Interlingua fairly well). On the other hand, learning to speak and write the language is more difficult than Esperanto. Additionally, native speakers of Germanic, Slavic, Finno-Yugraic languages and so on do not have this advantage. I would recommend Interlingua and Esperanto to anyone, but they have different purposes - Interlingua is useful to communicate widely to speakers of Romance languages, whereas Esperanto is useful as a universal second language. Having said that, if Interlingua for some reason became more popular than Esperanto, I would probably support Interlingua instead of Esperanto.

Ideas don't have to have a good chance of success to be worthy of support, but if they promote economic and social justice, language diversity, understanding between people, respect for cultural diversity and harmony then I will certainly support them.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: What's the problem?
by PLan on Sun 4th May 2008 06:03 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: What's the problem?"
PLan Member since:
2006-01-10

...I think it is absolutely critical that international communication in Europe respects the linguistic diversity within Europe. It is not fair that the language of 12% of Europe's population becomes the lingua franca for all. ...


I think you have summed things up neatly. The only case for not using English, at this point in time, as a second language is petty nationalism rather than common sense. I am sure the average European has enough self worth not to be culturally corrupted by choosing English as a second tongue.

Really I don't understand why anyone would be bothered what the source of their second language is whether it's German, French, or the "Great Satan" - English !

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: What's the problem?
by irbis on Sun 4th May 2008 06:44 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: What's the problem?"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

Hmm... As a side note. it seems that Ido, the third big auxiliary language could avoid some of the shortcomings of both Esperanto and Interlingua. For example, it doesn't have the non-standard letters of Esperanto that use breves and circumflexes. If Esperanto could get rid of that major headache, I might be more supportive of it. Yet Ido still keeps the extremely systematic and easy grammar of Esperanto. See here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_and_Ido_compared
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ido_and_Interlingua_compared
Too bad that the first world war almost destroyed the promising start of the Ido project.

Anyway, I don't believe that any of the current auxiliary languages could gain wide acceptance in international communication, like as an official language of some international organizations, before it would already have millions of active users and supporters otherwise, and so that it had already proven its wide acceptance elsewhere. However, English language already has that position in the world, like it or not, just like Latin had in the Middle Age western Europe.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: What's the problem?
by DeadFishMan on Mon 5th May 2008 13:39 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: What's the problem?"
DeadFishMan Member since:
2006-01-09

Man, I wish I could still grant you a bunch of mod points for that comment!

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: What's the problem?
by siride on Sun 4th May 2008 13:59 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: What's the problem?"
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

Except that easy to learn is relative to the languages you already know.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: What's the problem?
by siride on Sun 4th May 2008 14:06 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: What's the problem?"
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

English isn't as bad as people make it out to be. English speakers, being aware of all of the quirks it has, are quick to deride it as terrible and awful, forgetting that all the other languages out there have quirks and irregularities.

English does not make easy things hard or hard things impossible. I, as an English speaker, really have no trouble saying pretty much anything I need to say. What's impossible, exactly? What would be easy, but is hard in English, exactly? Irregular verb conjugations? Hahahaha. English is probably the best out of the European languages with respect to verb conjugations. Most verbs have four forms, e.g., live, lives, living, lived. For the vast majority of verbs, the pattern is exactly like the one above. A few verbs have five: sing, sings, singing, sang, sung. Most of these fall into a few common patterns based on rhyme, although the rest are truly irregular. Then there are a couple of truly irregulars: be, do, and the modal auxiliaries. These aren't generally regular in any other European language either, so English is no worse than its counterparts. But the verbs are special, so it makes sense that they don't follow the normal pattern.

Now, let's compare that to Latin with its multiple conjugations, containing myriad irregular verbs. Or to Spanish or French with 3-4 major conjugations, and then a set of irregulars. They still often have irregular past tenses, far more so than English. The less said about German, the better. Oh, and those languages have noun genders and inflected adjectives. English has invariable adjectives and nouns don't fall into any classes (except for a small number of irregular plurals, easily learned).

I could go on and on, but there's nothing particularly bad about English grammar or syntax (it's straightforward SVO language, compared, again, to German with it's strange V2 syntax, or French and Spanish with strange orderings of pronouns and weak elements). Why do people keep hating on English?

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: What's the problem?
by remush on Tue 6th May 2008 15:38 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: What's the problem?"
remush Member since:
2008-05-05

Why do people keep hating on English?

For exactly the same reasons why you British hated (and probably still hate) French.
It is more difficult to understand why you people are hating Esperanto, that never was in a dominating position (or is it threatening to be?).

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: What's the problem?
by ebasconp on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:44 UTC in reply to "RE: What's the problem?"
ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

Speakers of 23 different languages, I suspect. Which one do you chose? Would you presume to say that a single language is universal?


English is not universal but is the language a lot of people learn as a second language.

Though I would always prefer something spoken in my native language, I would prefer listening to a good English speech translated by a good human translator instead of listening a poor Spanish (my native language) speech translated by software... as the same article says, the software is far far from be near perfect.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by StephenBeDoper on Sun 4th May 2008 18:45 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

English is not universal but is the language a lot of people learn as a second language.


The most practical suggestion, I would imagine. But good luck getting the French to agree - if Canada* is any indication, at least.

(A country where 100% of our population has to take 9 years of mandatory French classes - because 15% of the population is still unable get over losing on the Plains of Abraham 300 years ago.)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by Trenien on Wed 7th May 2008 21:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

About that, I learned a very interesting thing a few days ago:
Until WWII, the most widely taught second language in Europe was French. Interestingly enough, the first reason why English gained preeminence was that one of the condition for a country to benefit from the Marshall Plan was to make English the most widely taught second language.

According to my source, the reasonning behind that was that if everybody spoke the same language, wars could be avoided.

Well, here we are, 60+ years later, and despite the huge effort, the great majority of Europeans are unable to really have a conversation in English.

I really wonder how things would be if it'd been Esperanto or another similar language that had been picked up...

Reply Score: 1

RE: What's the problem?
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:41 UTC in reply to "What's the problem?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I'm with you.

I'm Dutch, and I love my language, but the situation in the EU is bloody ridiculous. We should standardise on English. The end. I don't care what the French, Germans, or us Dutch think, I'm sick of hearing they spend MORE THAN ONE BILLION EUROS on translating alone. That's bloody retarded.

In fact, it's one of the two reasons why I consistently vote down anything related to Europe. The language issue clearly shows the inherent flaw of the EU: they pose as a supranational body, but in fact it's nothing more than a bunch of nation states acting like they like each other.

Standardise on English, and stop moving the EU government between Strassbourg and Brussels/Bruxelles twice a year. Then we'll talk.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: What's the problem?
by JoeBuck on Fri 2nd May 2008 22:18 UTC in reply to "RE: What's the problem?"
JoeBuck Member since:
2006-01-11

It's a big number, but expressed as a fraction of the GDP of the EU, it's manageable. The IMF estimates that the EU GDP for this year will be 11.9 trillion Euros. The cost of translation is less than 1/10,000 of that figure.
If you think of the cost of translation as a tax on European goods and services, it is about 1/100 of one percent. And it gives a lot of people jobs.

Machine translation isn't even close to usable at this point: getting 70% of the words right means multiple errors in every sentence. The most it's good for at this stage is to speed up the work of a human translator, who can look at the original and the machine translation, fix the errors, and perhaps train the machine translation to improve (if the program allows for training).

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: What's the problem?
by Terracotta on Fri 2nd May 2008 22:54 UTC in reply to "RE: What's the problem?"
Terracotta Member since:
2005-08-15

So, you basically want that only highly educated people get elected?

Then there's the problem of giving one country a language advantage in negotiations because they're language is the "universal" lingua franca.

In my opinion Esperanto would work much better. First, not that many people do speak it well enough to start diplomatic and political negotiations in as many would like to think. second everybody has the same chances, a second non foreign language to negotiate in.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by helf on Sat 3rd May 2008 03:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
helf Member since:
2005-07-06

Esperanto is a joke. A bad one at that.

/me mostly can't stand listening to it spoken...

argh, my EARS!!

Edited 2008-05-03 03:39 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: What's the problem?
by Moulinneuf on Sat 3rd May 2008 09:05 UTC in reply to "RE: What's the problem?"
Moulinneuf Member since:
2005-07-06

Did you ever factor in the cost or retraining and teaching everyone who don't speak or understand english into your nonsense ?

If the easy solution was to make everything english it would have been done a long time ago , But you know some people don't understand , write or speak in english , that's the majority of people in the EU by the way not the minority.

Spending 1 billion in translation is so intelligent that all european armed forces have seen there armed forces budget decline and there as never been in all of history such a long peace time between European country , mostly due to people figuring out that the other's where not insulting them because of translations.

The language issue is nonexistent and is not an issue at all , except for some idiot and racist. Who are trying to destroy it and point at it's flaws.

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 3rd May 2008 15:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Did you ever factor in the cost or retraining and teaching everyone who don't speak or understand english into your nonsense ?


English is taught all throughout the EU, starting in high school (and in my country, even in primary school, I've been studying English since I was ~8).. The infrastructure is already there - and let's face it, English already IS the de-facto standard language of the world. People might not like it, but that doesn't make it any less so. English is the only sane choice, not just from an EU perspective, but also from a world perspective.

If the easy solution was to make everything english it would have been done a long time ago


Indeed, it would have been done a long time ago if it wasn't for the irrational nationalistic feelings in the EU's member states. As if making English the standard language of the EU government in ANY WAY threatens the existence of languages like German, French, or my own, Dutch. I'm talking about the EU government, not the people themselves.

As for people claiming 1 billion isn't that much - utter nonsense. I'd rather see that 1 billion Euros spent on something that REALLY matters, like fighting poverty in the EU, or improving the environment. That's a million times more important than catering to irrational and idiotic nationalistic feelings.

Look, I'm as Dutch as they come, and I'm proud of that fact. I'm proud to be where I'm from, and in fact, I support policies that improve the awareness of local langages, like Fries in my own country, or Scottish Gaelic in Schotland (I'm learning Scottish Gaelic myself). As a linguist, I understand more than anyone the importance of a language when it comes to culture, and feelings of identity, of belonging, of unity.

But to claim that mandating a single language IN THE EU GOVERNMENT and its documents and proceedings somehow threatens the existence of national languages is moronic. In fact, it just proves how insecure people are about their cultures these days - as also evidenced by the irrational fear towards the muslim culture.

The language issue is nonexistent and is not an issue at all , except for some idiot and racist. Who are trying to destroy it and point at it's flaws.


Call me a racist one more time, Moulfijrgr, and you're banned for life on OSNews. I hope I made myself VERY clear. I demand a public apology.

DISCLAIMER: I speak, write and understand/read Dutch and English fluently, and I can understand/read German fluently (speaking and writing is slightly more problematic). I have a basic understanding of French (I can keep up as long as they speak slowly), Latin, and ancient Greek.

Edited 2008-05-03 15:53 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by DeadFishMan on Sat 3rd May 2008 17:24 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
DeadFishMan Member since:
2006-01-09

Call me a racist one more time, Moulfijrgr, and you're banned for life on OSNews. I hope I made myself VERY clear. I demand a public apology.

DISCLAIMER: I speak, write and understand/read Dutch and English fluently, and I can understand/read German fluently (speaking and writing is slightly more problematic). I have a basic understanding of French (I can keep up as long as they speak slowly), Latin, and ancient Greek.


I don't think that Mollinneuf was talking about you when he said that and I do find it funny that you took it so personal, especially given that English is not your mother tongue. After this rant of yours, I believe that he is the one that is entitled for apologies. Guess from who?

As for this language thing, I also happen to think that the native English speakers here are pushing their agenda again with the exception of sbergman27 - who gave a fairly detailed and reasonable explanation of why he thinks that it is a bad idea (although I still think that English is easier to learn than most languages out there, Steve!) - and the gentleman that is said to be an English teacher.

This stupidity has been raised once not so long ago by kaiwai and it was properly shotdown as the gibberish that it is. You can't just push a language onto millions of people like that: it doesn't work this way. And if, as you say, that only the EU parliament should use it as a common language, then I don't see any problem as long as everybody agree to that term. If they don't, fine, too. Try to push the international languages like Esperanto and others instead that were designed to be used in such cases.

And for the record, I agree that to try to push one language to someone who does speak other language and has no interest whatsoever in learning the former in the first place is indeed elitism. Feel free to ban me from your website if that pleases you, Thom. Anytime!

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by Moulinneuf on Sat 3rd May 2008 21:01 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
Moulinneuf Member since:
2005-07-06

1)I did not call you a racist.
2)I appologize if my use of the word racist got you upset , because you misunderstood what I said because it's not written with a lot of explanation as to what I meant or even targetting you.

There are people who attack the EU because they are idiot and racist and there only intent is to destroy it. You oppose it and say what you don't like about it , it's not the same thing ... your objective is not destruction.

Look Thom , sorry on this your being completely unrealistic , sure the language of internationnal commerce is english , except the reality is most people don't work at the internationnal level but at the local level , In what language do you exchange the most with the people around you , not on the internet , but with people you meet face to face ? Just do the real experiment and stop talking or writing to everyone around you in any other language but english. You will see the real reality.

You say that the training center are in place , well how come the majority of those who come out of school from the Netherland don't all adopt English in there daily life ? Because they failed it / at it. But in your explanation your ommiting the fact that there is not just student who need to learn it , but everyone else who don't speak , write or understand it. The schools system is already at near maximum capacity imagine if it had to take on 2/3 of the rest of the populations.

You say that the biggest problem is nationalistic pride , when the fact is people are not created equals and that for the majority they barely are able to speak and write in there native language , they are unable to learn easily other language.

I'm talking about the EU government, not the people themselves.


The EU governement is made up of people , why do you think they have translators during the sessions , because they like to spend money to protect the languages ? No because the majority are not perfectly bilingual or knowledgeable in all language used ...

Also your not alone at talking about this point and the majority of attacker ( do I need to point your not an attacker ?) are saying at all level.

" As for people claiming 1 billion isn't that much"


Thom , some of us do have business that deals with translators. It's not cheap at all and with the numbers of papers that come out of the EU that need translation it's not even a percentage of a nano cent per all individual who are in the EU population.

I'd rather see that 1 billion Euros spent on something that REALLY matters, like fighting poverty in the EU, or improving the environment.


People don't go to war over poverty and the environment , they do when they don't understand each others or think there rights and privilege are trumpled down. Your taking money that solve a problem of communication and want to divert this problem solving amount to direct it untargetted at other problems that are not economic in natures. If 1 Billion was the number needed to solve the environment and poverty problem there would be thousand of people with the money linning up to pay it cash ...

"Moulfijrgr"


Moulinneuf is my real life name ...

Sorry Thom but your using a computer and talking in another language and went to school above the high school level. Your not like the majority of people.

Most people don't use computers because they don't understand them and a good majority of them can't afford them and a good portion of them are scared of them.

The majority of people have trouble communicating in there own language.

Example based on true events : There is an old lady who speak french who received her medication in english , the drugstore made a printing error , the old lady died , unable to read what was what.

A familly of four from Ontario ( mostly english speaking province ) came to Quebec as tourist some of the the road sign are in French only , missread an exit and panicked try to accelerate and take the next exit , they got into an accident , they all died.

There are tons of language based deadly accident happening everywhere around the world, from people who speak the language.

Your also creating this super governement individual who just don't exist in reality and cloning it multiple times to support your idea , we would be lucky if they had 1/10 of your good intentions or all your ability. They just don't exist in reality.

Sorry.

Edited 2008-05-03 21:02 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by StephenBeDoper on Sun 4th May 2008 20:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

But you know some people don't understand , write or speak in english , that's the majority of people in the EU by the way not the minority.


Source...?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by sbergman27 on Sun 4th May 2008 21:21 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Source...?

Surely at least some European countries include language information as census questions?

I'm very curious about the answer to this question, because understanding English is currently the key that unlocks the door to a vast majority of the Internet.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: What's the problem?
by dmantione on Sun 4th May 2008 22:16 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: What's the problem?"
dmantione Member since:
2005-07-06

"Source...?

I'm very curious about the answer to this question, because understanding English is currently the key that unlocks the door to a vast majority of the Internet.
"

Well, some countries, especially the northern countries, spend heaps of resources on learning their full population to use English as second language. Others, mostly southern Europe, limit their English teaching effort mostly to the higher educated part of society. I.e. The Netherlands starts with English at young age while Italy lets its children only play with it at young age, postponing real English lessons to secundary education schools where it makes sense.

While possesing knowledge of English unlocks a vast amount of knowledge and culture, the resources a society needs to spend on learning English as secondary language cannot be underestimated. One has to consider direct financial costs of teaching English, as well as account of spending usefull and valueable education time that could also be spent on teaching other subjects.

In fact, it is quite likely that for some of the larger European languages, spending some extra money into making resources available in the national language is economically more efficient than spending the resources on making every individual able to understand and communicate in English.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: What's the problem?
by sbergman27 on Sun 4th May 2008 22:42 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: What's the problem?"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

postponing real English lessons to secundary education schools where it makes sense.

Thank you for the additional information. Could you please clarify the meaning of "secondary education schools"?

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: What's the problem?
by dmantione on Mon 5th May 2008 05:14 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: What's the problem?"
dmantione Member since:
2005-07-06

In the case of Italy, primary education would be the "Scuola Elementare", while secondary education is "Scuola Media". There are a few forms of "Media", which vary a lot in what is being teached, including language teaching. Note that I'm not an expert on the Italian education system.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: What's the problem?
by mat69 on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:30 UTC in reply to "RE: What's the problem?"
mat69 Member since:
2006-03-29

Apparently you understood nothing.
"Lernens Geschichte" [~ "Learn history"] as one of our politicans once said.

If you look at the facts a lot of people and countries of the EU profited. Countries that isolated themselves like Switzerland are falling behind.

When was the last war between members of the EU? Right more than 60 years ago, before there was even the EU. --> one of the reasons to found such body was that "incident".

Understanding each other is not retared, losing the connection with your citizens is.


What you are saying is that you want some kind of ancient Rome with one language, no matter if the people far away of Rome understand you or not. Imo one language would result in a system where everybody is "ruled" by "the EU", the perception would be worse than it's now.

Go on wasteing your votes without informing yourself.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What's the problem?
by kaiwai on Fri 2nd May 2008 23:21 UTC in reply to "What's the problem?"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Can't the EU simply mandate a common language? If not, why not? What's to stop them?


Lets put it this way, all the new members of the EU have English as their official second language; so one can assume that they aren't the barriers. So basically it comes down to certain countries who speak a certain language who see 'sticking it to the English' as part and parcel with 'sticking it to the American's' by their refusal to speak English not only properly but at least put some effort into learning it in the first place.

Making English the standard for communication in business has already happened. Anyone remember in France the commotion made when a business leader said that English is a world language - get used to it? then in Luxembourg over the 'creeping in of English' into French? So I'm sure you can work out who the main instigators for derailing anything that resembles Anglo-Saxon.

One only need to look at the pathetic and juvenile reaction to economic reforms in France and labeling them as 'too anglo-saxon' to understand the immaturity one is actually dealing with. I can't believe that a country that spurred off the enlightenment with great thinkers is basically nothing more than a country of knee jerk reactionaries to anything from outside France.

Edited 2008-05-02 23:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: What's the problem?
by Trenien on Sat 3rd May 2008 10:08 UTC in reply to "RE: What's the problem?"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

Let's see...

First, English is far from being the most widely spoken language in Europe: that'd be either French or German (Germany is now the most populated country in the EU, and French is spoken in four European countries, three of which are part of the EU).

Next, English is neither spoken by most people in Europe, nor easy to learn. In effect, making it the one official language in the EU would exclude most people from understanding what the various EU's bodies are saying. When such a thing happen, you haven't an union, you have an empire.

Having English the official EU's language has always been the wet dream of both the US and UK, and of a minority of people who can so put themselves above the unwashed masses.


Disclaimer: I'm French and an English teacher.

Reply Score: 7

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by tinypea on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
tinypea Member since:
2008-05-03

What you say is far from true, according to EU sources quoted on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_European_Union

13% of the EU population can speak English as a mother tongue. This exceed french, on 12%, but lags German, on 18%.

38% of the EU population can speak english as a second language, a figure that complete dwarves French (14%) and German (14%).

In total, a mighty 51% of the EU's population can speak english, which crushes French on a paltry 26% ad German on 32%.

So perhaps you should do some research before opining on what the most widely spoken languages of the EU are. English has twice the speakers of French and German and so is by far the least elitist. To make the official language either French of German would be pandering to an elite minority of bureaucrats. To make english the official language would be the popular democratic thing to do.

But don't let that stop you spinning lies and pretending it is still 1812 and french the language of culture, business, and statecraft.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by mat69 on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:44 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
mat69 Member since:
2006-03-29

Come on.

Those % don't change anything.

What is "speak English"?
The skill varies a lot so its close to useless imo to quantify how many people "speak" English as second language.


Personally I don't think that changing the language would help the EU, I rather think that it would be the first step into its destruction. As history showed a lot of nationalistic movements emerge if the culture of an ethnic group is "oppressed".
One very important part of culture is the language you interact with.

Heck, even the UK did not manage to have one single football team to represent their country and now you ask as to speak one language only, concerning at least the administration?

And no, the "business" example does not count. Companies are no democratic bodies, the stakes are not even close to evenly allotted

--> I oppose the "United States of Europe", but no the EU.

Reply Score: 3

English is the Open Source Language
by tinypea on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:53 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: What's the problem?"
tinypea Member since:
2008-05-03

I'm not proposing that English be made the official language f the EU, I'm opposing the idea that french or german are better candidate for it or more widely spoken and understood.

However I think english is the least nationalistic language. It is not the official language of the UK, it is just the language everybody happens to speak in the UK. There are many more native speakers of english outwith the UK than within. Unlike French particularly, English is a free language, divorced from the state. There's no Academy of English that we have to live under the tyranny of, no "French is the language of the Republic." in the constitution. English is defined far more by those who speak it beyond the shore of the UK, in a global free for all.

English is free, and it makes free those that speak it. It's the open source language, unlike french and german. If we are to choose a language for the EU, it should be English, the language that is most widely spoken, the language that belongs to the people and not to any state or nation.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by Moulinneuf on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
Moulinneuf Member since:
2005-07-06

This is a poll, not a census.

28,694 citizens

with a minimum age of 15 were asked in the then 25 member-states as well as in the then future member-states (Bulgaria, Romania) and the candidate countries (Croatia, Turkey) at the time of the survey. Only citizens, not immigrants, were asked.

28,694 citizens where polled out of 497,198,740.

I wonder why that's even accepted and still there ....

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: What's the problem?
by tinypea on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:58 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: What's the problem?"
tinypea Member since:
2008-05-03

Why? It is a poll so it is wrong? They went out and asked a huge number of people what they speak, and it therefore wrong? Come now!

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: What's the problem?
by Moulinneuf on Sat 3rd May 2008 12:19 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: What's the problem?"
Moulinneuf Member since:
2005-07-06

"Why?"

Because it's not accurate.

"It is a poll so it is wrong?"

Yes. you have 95% + of the population who is not accounted for in your Poll.

"They went out and asked a huge number of people what they speak, and it therefore wrong?"

28,694 citizens out of 497,198,740 is huge ? By what measure ? Bulshit and biased new standards ? You have a more numerous group at a Football event or any other events ...

"Come now!"

No ....

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by kaiwai on Sat 3rd May 2008 12:54 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

But don't let that stop you spinning lies and pretending it is still 1812 and french the language of culture, business, and statecraft.


Reminds me when I was at work, some French people were chatting, and I was able to answer their question in English. Their reaction, "oh, do you understand French" - my response, "well, when I was at high school I took a bit of interest in Latin. Since I know some basic Latin, I could work out the gist of what you were saying in your bastardised Latin" (btw, what is it with Eurotrash leaving their table like a tip - is it because their mummy and daddy look after them till the age of 28 or something?).

English is a morphing and evolving language that is easy to use, willing to adopt new words from other languages with no hesitation. New words are added on a daily basis, phrases and colloquialisms are being updated and created all the time. Its a living, breathing language when compared to the decrepit crap that is French, with its legalistic bureaucratic behemoth - because shock bloody horror, if you allowed the language to be controlled and moved forward by the dirty unwashed masses!

PS. Ask yourself, how come there hasn't been a descent French comedy yet using witty double entendre's, turn of phrase etc. etc.

Edited 2008-05-03 12:56 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by Trenien on Sat 3rd May 2008 13:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

Even if I stay very conservative, if I take the UK, Ireland and Malta's population, they add up to about 67 millions. On the other side, taking a low 40% of Belgium's population and that of France, I get 68 millions of people.

I used the same source you did for these numbers: Wikipedia.
To know which language is spoken where: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_European_Union
UK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uk
Ireland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland
Malta: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta
Belgium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium
Languages of Belgium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Belgium

Now could someone explain to me how this one million person difference in favor of French ends up in a 1% difference in favor of English?

Nobody?

Nevermind, I already know the answer. From the same article: "Special Eurobarometer 243" of the European Commission with the title "Europeans and their Languages"

I'll also quote: "This is a poll, not a census. 28,694 citizens with a minimum age of 15 were asked in the then 25 member-states as well as in the then future member-states (Bulgaria, Romania) and the candidate countries (Croatia, Turkey) at the time of the survey. Only citizens, not immigrants, were asked."

The same survey says that in a paltry five years, 9% more people are able to hold a conversation in a foreign language. As far as I'm aware, in that timeframe (2001 to 2006), no country has implemented a radically different way of teaching languages (whichever one). That is completely coherent with the fact we're talking feeling here, not facts.
Another point is that the number of surveyed people are the same in each and every country (about a thousand people). Considering, for instance, that France's population is close to six times the size of that of Belgium (and there are more extreme cases), I begin to doubt the value of said survey. One last point to consider is that this has been done at the behest of the European Commission, which is known for its willingness to favor English above any other language...

That said, you misunderstood me in thinking I'd favor teaching French or German in place of English. What I'd like would be for the first foreign language to be taught throughout Europe to be either Esperanto, Interlingua or some such. These are easy to learn, and don't put any country and its citizens above the others. In addition, I feel it absolutely necessary to keep translating any and all EU's documents in every EU's languages. It's the only way Europe can keep at least a semblance of Democracy.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by PLan on Sat 3rd May 2008 22:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's the problem?"
PLan Member since:
2006-01-10

...Having English the official EU's language has always been the wet dream of both the US and UK, and of a minority of people who can so put themselves above the unwashed masses.


Disclaimer: I'm French and an English teacher.


Quite the opposite. As a Brit I can tell you the typical British person never thinks about the international penetration of English as a second language. It just happened, as if by accident. If French was in the position of English I would be only too happy to use it as a universal second language.

The problem here is not the accidental popularity of English, but the irrational national pride of some countries determined to block progress.

Aren't you really projecting the French "wet dream" onto English speakers ?

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by Trenien on Mon 5th May 2008 15:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What's the problem?"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

You misread me. I didn't say the US and UK's people, I said the US and UK.

This translates into:
- The ruling bodies and the people whose social/professionnal circles are somewhat to them explicitely want that to be achieved.
- Although they claim indifference, the population tend to expect everybody to be able to speak English. This last is especially true with Americans, but I've seen it often enough with Brits as well to know it's something pretty widely spread in the UK as well.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What's the problem?
by Moulinneuf on Sat 3rd May 2008 08:41 UTC in reply to "What's the problem?"
Moulinneuf Member since:
2005-07-06

"Can't the EU simply mandate a common language?"

It's not part of the EU mandate and democracy as opposed to republic or monarchy can't impose on it's people from the top down , but rather the people must first mandate the EU to do so and they must vote in the favor of the application of a law on the subject.

"What's to stop them?"

The majority of the people in the EU. It's real easy to impose commercial and monetary changes , because it's the property of governement. It's another to try to impose languages most people don't know or use or understand.

Most of those who are against translations don't factor in that learning a new languages as a cost and that retraining all the people people into another languages is 1 trillion or more time higher then doing translations.

Reply Score: 5

RE: What's the problem?
by Googol on Sat 3rd May 2008 09:10 UTC in reply to "What's the problem?"
Googol Member since:
2006-11-24

Good thinking, good thinking, my friend.. that would have to be German then, since it is the widest spoken language in the EU. We already tried to establish that ~60 years ago but the idea didn't exactly fly back then.. ;)

Reply Score: 5

Federation already has this
by moronikos on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:36 UTC
moronikos
Member since:
2005-07-06

They should borrow the technology from the United Federation of Planets. No use developing this yourselves. Either that, or just go with the obvious choice: US English.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Federation already has this
by rhyder on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:52 UTC in reply to "Federation already has this"
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

I personally volunteer to liaise with Hoshi on this project.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Federation already has this
by miscz on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:58 UTC in reply to "Federation already has this"
miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

US English being obvious? Here in Poland we're usually taught British English in schools. I'd guess that's the case too in other european countries.

Even though I've picked up most of the new words in last few years from TV and other media (meaning that they're more likely to be US variations) I still insist on writing "colour" and generally prefer british spelling if I'm aware of both. They are more natural, US English spelling seems to be bastardized and not far from horrors like "how r u" and "your dumb" (given the adoption rate of the latter I wouldn't be surprised if it became a norm in 30 years ;) ). I'm aware that I probably do a lot of mistakes like that myself though so feel free to correct me!

If we had to pick one language I guess people would be more comfortable with european one - although that's still very distant future (60 years? at best).

Reply Score: 8

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

It truly is a shame that my own native language, English, has become such a world standard instead of something that would have made more sense, like Esperanto.

Reply Score: 6

Javier O. Augusto Member since:
2005-08-10

This idea is stupid, stop.

Let's say, why would we have thousands of gnu/linux distros??? let's wipe'em out!!! only Red Hat.

Boooh ya!!!

If you don't like Dutch, GET OVER!!!

I LOVE MY MOTHER TONGUE SPANISH

Reply Score: 3

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

This idea is stupid, stop.

No. A standard language that makes logical, gramatic, and phonetic sense, is consistent and easy to learn, and is naturally extensible in a straightforward way is not a stupid idea. People always bring up the idea of how wonderful language diversity is. But it seems to me the concept pales next to the idea of any two or more of more of the 6.5 billion human beings on this earth being able to exchange ideas, rather than everyone being balkanized into small groups who happen to be able to communicate.

The Linux distros you refer to all share source compatibility, and in that way are more demonstrative of the advantages of a common standard than of the advantages of balkanization. And they are also exceedingly top-heavy... with language packs.

BTW, coincidentally, I have started self-studying Esperanto and am finding this site quite helpful for getting started:

http://en.lernu.net/

Edit: On Ubuntu Hardy an apt-cache search for the string "language-pack", which is hardly a comprehensive search, turns up nearly 1200 packages. Talk about wasted and redundant effort...

Edited 2008-05-02 23:24 UTC

Reply Score: 4

tinypea Member since:
2008-05-03

Come on, Esperanto is a stupid idea. First of all, it is not "universal", or easy to learn for everyone - it is hugely biased toward latin language speakers. Esperanto is much more difficult to learn if you are an english speaker of a japanese speaker than if you speak, say, italian.

So all this stuff about how it is less culturally biased is a load of tommyrot.

Secondly, 51% of the population of the EU's 27 countries can speak english, right now. This compares to the 0.000000000000001% (or whatever it is) that can speak esperanto the language of latinate nerds.

So from a practical perspective you would have to retrain a huge population of people to speak your made up language all at once. A colossal waste of human time for billions of people. Nothing short of a brutal global totalitarian state could make esperanto a success, or ever could.

So there's no point whinging on about it and how superior it supposedly is. It's pointless and wrong in every way.

Reply Score: 0

siride Member since:
2006-01-02

Languages do make logical and grammatical sense, but unfortunately, that logic is more complicated than most people care to deal with, so they just say "English is illogical and stupid! Waa waa waa". The reality is, every feature of English has been vetted by the usage of millions of people over thousands of years. It's all there for a reason and it serves the speakers well. A language designed by a guy with a Latin fetish is less logical and less likely to suit the needs of its speakers than any natural language. Esperanto, especially, has a number of problems.

http://www.cix.co.uk/~morven/lang/esp.html" rel="nofollow">http://web.archive.org/web/20020802185046/http://www.cix.co.uk/~mor...

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

The reality is, every feature of English has been vetted by the usage of millions of people over thousands of years. It's all there for a reason and it serves the speakers well.

Do you believe in the tooth fairy, too?

Even just 1000 years ago, English looked like this:

"""
Syððan wæs geworden þæt he ferde þurh þa ceastre and þæt castel: godes rice prediciende and bodiende. and hi twelfe mid. And sume wif þe wæron gehælede of awyrgdum gastum: and untrumnessum: seo magdalenisce maria ofþære seofan deoflu uteodon: and iohanna chuzan wif herodes gerefan: and susanna and manega oðre þe him of hyra spedum þenedon.
"""

Every feature vetted for thousands of years, huh?

And that's before we even get to the question of whether changes in even the last 100 years have been "vetted" or just chunked in any which way.

Please present your evidence that they have been "vetted".

P.S. Your link is broken.

Edited 2008-05-04 14:58 UTC

Reply Score: 3

siride Member since:
2006-01-02

I am fully aware of the history of English, having studied Old English and Middle English, as well as other old Germanic languages, such as Gothic and Old High German.

Do you think that after Old English, the language was reinvented out of whole cloth? No. It was an evolutionary process. Each step made sense to the speakers and worked within the framework of the existing language. Every word that is in the language is there because some set of people found it useful. Every grammatical structure evolved for maximal expressive power, because if it didn't, people wouldn't use such a structure.

Compare that to Esperanto, which was designed out of ignorance of how language works and turns out not to be any more logical than any other language out there.

Here's the link again:
http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/ranto/

Reply Score: 2

ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

but your post to this topic is in...english.

Reply Score: 2

wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

I agree. Esperanto should be the natural choice for the EU lingua franca. It has the following advantages:


1) It's not the native language of any European country (or any other country, actually), so there's little or no unfair advantage or privilege to any one country.

2) It's somewhat Indo-European biased, which is a minus for a prospective world auxiliary language, but a plus for an European one.

3) It's easy, small and regular, as only a constructed language can be.

4) It has been used in real-life speech for quite a long time, and it has proven to be sufficiently expressive for an artificial language.

Reply Score: 5

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Don't expect us Americans to join in. Most people here still consider the SI system of units to be a foreign language and refuse to touch it. When I first set up the Gnome weather applet on one of my users' desktop panel, they said they could not believe that Linux defaulted to all that "meters" stuff. When I pointed out that only a small fraction of the population of the earth use feet, yards, and degrees Fahrenheit, it seemed a genuine revelation to him. I think it will be a while before Oklahoma joins the Esperanto Revolution. Sometimes it feels more like the land that time forgot. But by God, we're proud to be Americans around here!

Edited 2008-05-03 00:43 UTC

Reply Score: 6

wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

heh, that's why I support the proposal of Esperanto as an auxiliary language for the European Union, not for the wider world, where English is king ;)

BTW I actually like English, and I think it does little favor to such a fine language to be caught in the middle of political disputes.

Reply Score: 3

helf Member since:
2005-07-06

yeah, I'm rather fond of English as well ;) I've piddled with Esperanto. There is no way I'd ever want to use it. ugh...

Reply Score: 4

Frobozz Member since:
2005-12-04

1) It's not the native language of any European country (or any other country, actually), so there's little or no unfair advantage or privilege to any one country.

Klingon ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klingon_language ) works under that rule as well - doesn't mean I'd want to speak it on a regular basis though.

Reply Score: 3

DigitalAxis Member since:
2005-08-28

Your monopolistic behaviour is WITHOUT HONOUR!

*cuts Steve Balmer with Bat'leth*

Reply Score: 2

ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

I agree. Esperanto should be the natural choice for the EU lingua franca. It has the following advantages:


So, I'd go by Interlingua

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlingua
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_and_Interlingua_compared

it's nicer than Esperanto and "fixes several bugs" found in Esperanto.

Anyway, come on guys! we are people from different parts of the world and we are debating about what language the EU should use while we are already using the de facto standard: English. So, what does go wrong with it?

Reply Score: 3

Terracotta Member since:
2005-08-15

What's wrong with English? Only a minority of people speak it well enough to really communicate. A lot of people recognise a lot of stuff when they hear it, but they have more problems creating their own English sentences. It may be that in Business it's the standard, but even there, it's mostly only the highly educated people that use this so called universal de facto lingua franca. So introducing it as a second language would be as artificial as introducing Esperanto, it would give advantage to one part of the EU when it comes to political negotiations, something one wouldn't want at all, and it is a lot harder to learn. Esperanto was created for just that, a language to use as a second language, not as a native one. This way every culture gets the same treatment and respect as it's neighbour culture.

Reply Score: 3

Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

What's wrong is that apart from the native speakers, only a small minority can speak it with any kind of significant fluency.

Hence, declaring it the Official Language is excluding most people from understanding official dealings even more than they now are.

And I write this as someone who teaches English as a second language for a living.

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

What's wrong is that apart from the native speakers, only a small minority can speak it with any kind of significant fluency.

And of the native speakers, only a small minority can write it with any kind of fluency. Too many irregularities. Too many exceptions. It has grown like a wart and it shows. Languages and systems of measurement are too important to be trusted to a hodge podge system of hacks and inconsistent improvisation made standard after the fact.

Communication is a very serious matter, indeed. Miscommunication even more so, as this tragic passage so clearly demonstrates:

http://www.mostly-harmless.de/crllstlk.htm

Edited 2008-05-03 12:02 UTC

Reply Score: 2

ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

there are many good reasons why esperanto is not superior. Think of it this way: english is like linux and esperanto is like Hurd. Esperanto is a 'perfect' language that is very limited but english is always adapting to the needs of actual users.

English sucks up words from many other languages and comes up with new words to deal with all kinds of new concepts and ideas along with the old. It's a mess and complicated but then again so is life.

English is not all that hard to learn as long as you use a proper method. You don't want to memorize every single word. It is mostly phonetic but more complicated because it combines anglo saxon words such as "house" and "ball" with greek/latin roots. You have to know a few rules for example: ch in a greek word like chorus is pronounced 'k' but 'ch' in an a french word like 'chef' and 'chevrolet' is 'sh and 'ch' in an anglo word like 'chicken' is the regular pronunciation.

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Think of it this way: english is like linux and esperanto is like Hurd. Esperanto is a 'perfect' language that is very limited but english is always adapting to the needs of actual users.

You have a strange understanding of Esperanto, and possibly of designed languages, in general. Esperanto is hardly static. It is a living language like any other natural language. Esperanto speakers receive organ enlargement spam ("spamo") just like the rest of us and create or adapt words from other languages to deal with the new concepts. (How could they not?) It is not the vocabulary, but the clean and extensible grammar and flexible and consistent system of word formation that are its strengths. English sucks up words from other languages, true, but has a poor and inconsistent infrastructure for integrating those words. Consequently, things end up as an irregular and unmaintainable mess. Esperanto speakers import roots, not gratuitously, but when needed, and there are very clear, consistent, and unambiguous rules for how they will integrate into the language.

Esperanto is designed from the ground up to be cleanly extensible. English just accidentally accreted and is still accreting in helter skelter fashion.

As to English not being difficult to learn... I live in a country brimming with life-long speakers of it who have little command of their native language.

Edited 2008-05-04 05:05 UTC

Reply Score: 2

wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

there are many good reasons why esperanto is not superior. Think of it this way: english is like linux and esperanto is like Hurd. Esperanto is a 'perfect' language that is very limited but english is always adapting to the needs of actual users.


If anything, I'd say, English is like Windows (it has lots of legacy baggage, and it conquered the world for reasons other than its merits, despite what their users think), Esperanto is like Linux (a clean reimplementation of Unix/indo-european languages, far from perfect but a true, and better, alternative to the dominating OS/language). Ido and Interlingua are like the BSD's (perhaps cleaner than Linux/Esperanto, but with even less users/speakers and less adapted to the desktop/ everyday speak). Lojban is like the Hurd (it tries to be much more than a just another clone of the usual OS's/languages, it's massively redesigned and a bit overengineered, with lots of interesting concepts but also lots of implementation problems)




English is not all that hard to learn as long as you use a proper method. You don't want to memorize every single word. It is mostly phonetic but more complicated because it combines anglo saxon words such as "house" and "ball" with greek/latin roots. You have to know a few rules for example: ch in a greek word like chorus is pronounced 'k' but 'ch' in an a french word like 'chef' and 'chevrolet' is 'sh and 'ch' in an anglo word like 'chicken' is the regular pronunciation.


Mostly phonetic... I beg your pardon?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_homographs

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

English is not all that hard to learn as long as you use a proper method. You don't want to memorize every single word. It is mostly phonetic but more complicated because it combines anglo saxon words such as "house" and "ball" with greek/latin roots. You have to know a few rules for example: ch in a greek word like chorus is pronounced 'k' but 'ch' in an a french word like 'chef' and 'chevrolet' is 'sh and 'ch' in an anglo word like 'chicken' is the regular pronunciation.

So you are saying that you don't have to memorize every single word, because you can just memorize the etymology of every single word, along with the applicable rules used by the (often dead) language from which the word derives. Of course, that doesn't really work, because there are plenty of exceptions which are not consistent with that method, since English cannot even follow its own confusing and needlessly complicated hodge-podge of rules.

In English, if you haven't looked up and memorized what is considered "standard" for each form of each word, you are making a guess, pure and simple.

Edited 2008-05-04 15:30 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Federation already has this
by joshv on Sun 4th May 2008 01:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Federation already has this"
joshv Member since:
2006-03-18

You can thank Noah Webster for the difference between English and British spellings. You characterization of US spelling as a "bastardization" is incorrect. Webster wanted to simplify and move spellings closer to pronunciation. For example, the "u" in colour" is not pronounced, at least not by speakers of American English. "Criticize" is actually spoken with a "z" sound, so Webster spelled it with a "z". The "er" sound is consistently spelled "er" in US English, while it can be "re" or "er" in British. We also truncated of the unnecessary "ogue" to "og", as in catalog, and got rid of the frenchy "que" as in "check".

I don't claim that any English spelling is particularly consistent or representative of pronunciation, but US Enlish spelling is certainly more consistent than British.

Reply Score: 1

miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

My own mother tongue (why isn't it "tong" in US English? ;) ), Polish, has even weirder and more arcane rules that guide spelling than British English. People who are for simplification of Polish and removing "obsolete" characters that seemingly sound the same (rz and ż, ch and h, u and ó, ą and on etc) are the ones that are spelling them improperly.

Even my polish language/literature teacher gave me strange looks for saying that I can tell how to spell some words because I hear the difference. I don't know a single person that knows the difference in sound between u and ó but it is one of the easier ones thanks to rather simple rules and very few exceptions.

It's probably similar with US English and Americans did the right thing - USA population formed it's own way of pronouncing stuff so the spelling had to change. At the same time British English spelling fits people from the UK just right IMO.

Edited 2008-05-04 02:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

One of the more damaging influences upon English today are the speakers who pedantically insist upon continuing and extending the inconsistent aspects of the language, and counter the normal forces that would otherwise work to smooth out the irregularities. These are the people who insist upon using words like Unices, and "correcting" others when they use perfectly natural words like "radiuses" and "indexes", promoting the continued use of senseless irregular forms like radii and indices, often based upon historical etymological context which has little relevance today. Viewed objectively, people saying "Cobol is loosing popularity" rather than "Cobol is losing popularity" are helping English by introducing some much needed uniformity, and weeding out senseless cruft that native speakers are simply too close to the language to see.

English is far too broken to ever really be fixed. The cracks run all the way to the core. But I wish people would not get in the way of what superficial natural repairs are possible. As more people learn English as a second language, they are going to be exerting a normalizing influence on the language. Please do not fight against that positive influence out of a misguided sense of pedantry.

Reply Score: 2

miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

My point of view is a bit twisted. I speak rather insane language (when it comes to the grammar) and among educated people in Poland any kind of poor spelling is seen as being rude, having no respect to the person that has to read it and generally makes the person look uncultured. You have to forgive me that from now on I will use the proper plural forms for radius and index ;)

US English is and will be the international one because the nature of how it came to be is similar to the current adopotion by the people who learn it as a second language.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Federation already has this
by macUser on Sat 3rd May 2008 00:17 UTC in reply to "Federation already has this"
macUser Member since:
2006-12-15

They should borrow the technology from the United Federation of Planets. No use developing this yourselves. Either that, or just go with the obvious choice: US English.


The US can't even standardize on a single language, what makes you think the EU can?

Reply Score: 2

Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

"just go with the obvious choice: US English"

I don't see any reason at all to choose US English.
Maybe British English...

Reply Score: 3

RE: Federation already has this
by SoloDeveloper on Sat 3rd May 2008 21:13 UTC in reply to "Federation already has this"
SoloDeveloper Member since:
2008-03-16

I am glad to see that some one in the first five comments made this. I would have been severely upset if they did not.

So yeah, get a Universal Translator, or move on to the bastard language of the world, U.S. English.

Reply Score: 1

Just Pick The Top 3?
by jayson.knight on Fri 2nd May 2008 21:51 UTC
jayson.knight
Member since:
2005-07-06

Why not just pick the top 3 to translate to? Only having to translate to 3 languages has got to be a whole helluva lot cheaper than 23, and with those 3 (presumably English, German, and French) you'll have the majority of the continent covered.

Seems like a happy medium to me, but take it with a grain of salt given that I'm American.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Just Pick The Top 3?
by miscz on Fri 2nd May 2008 22:04 UTC in reply to "Just Pick The Top 3?"
miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

I'd add Spanish to this list. Even though Spain is not one of the biggest countries it's still populated by something like nearly 50 million people and the language is more likely to be learned than French and German by regular people. It is easy and you can use it to communicate in almost entire South America and all the surroundings as far as to the southern border of the USA and further.

This project is pretty ambitious and they should concentrate on those languages first though. That's how it will probably be done if they don't give up on the research.

Edited 2008-05-02 22:07 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Just Pick The Top 3?
by vege on Fri 2nd May 2008 22:06 UTC in reply to "Just Pick The Top 3?"
vege Member since:
2006-04-07

It wouldn't work because of the well known nature of the nations in Europe.
If you pick English, German and French, Italians will require to be in too. If you let them in, Spain will claim Spanish is mandatory too. Then come the Polish noting they are equal in numbers to the Spaniards within the EU. And so on.

Reply Score: 3

Machine translation community
by klauthor on Fri 2nd May 2008 22:27 UTC
klauthor
Member since:
2008-05-02

Ok, as I know the machine translation community a bit, some more details that might be interesting:

First, the TC-Star project is done, it was pretty heavy (=lots of money) and some nice progress was indeed reported. But until we have a speech-to-speech system with decent results on unspecified data, that will still take a very long time. Success on current data is highly language and domain dependent, e.g. doing some Spanish-English translation for a domain like Parliament debates works quite well (maybe 70-80% of the sentences are readable) while unrestricted Chinese-English translation fails horrorbly (about 30% of the sentences are readable, or even less). Now adding speech recognition and speech synthesis for a full speech-to-speech system adds even more errors.

Second, the academic systems are exactly that: academic (you can have a look at the open-source Moses translation system at http://www.statmt.org/moses/). Real world systems for real world data to be translated in real time will come from Google and not from some academic open source programs. The Google translation group is very well equiped and they produce the best results in open evaluations. Of course they benefit from the academic research which they reimplement as they need it, but at the end it will be again another monopoly for Google.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Machine translation community
by benob on Sat 3rd May 2008 03:48 UTC in reply to "Machine translation community"
benob Member since:
2008-05-03

One of the main problem for getting better translation systems is the inability to judge accurately if the system output is good or not. Usually, you ask multiple persons to translate a set of sentences (and they usually translate it as different sentences), then you compare the output of the system to those references. BLEU for instance compares sub-sequences of words and gives a score according to that. However, if you take a human translation an compare it to the others, it can perform worse than an automatic system while being much more fluent. Automatic evaluation by comparing words is just unreliable. That's why recent projects have turned to manual evaluation. Basically, somebody counts the number of changes (replace or move words) that are necessary to match one of the human translation to the system output. It is much more expensive than BLEU and takes a lot of time. Imagine that you have to redo it every time some random researcher comes up with a new idea. Just hopeless...

By the way, some arabic-english speech-to-speech translation systems are deployed in the field in Irak. I don't know how many deaths they are responsible for ;)

Reply Score: 2

Wendy Wasilkoff Member since:
2008-05-03

Dear all,

I;ve figured all of you might become quite interested in the pretty amateurish project we've launched just recently - we're taking the results of existing commercial MT systems (Google, Systran, LEC and a couple of other are being evaluateed currently) and take a look at the results from purely non-professional point of views of an average person trying to read and understand what's written in the foreign language.

Please check it out at www.pclingua.com.

Comments are more than welcome - please joing the community at pclingua.collectivex.com

Reply Score: 1

english
by smashIt on Fri 2nd May 2008 22:27 UTC
smashIt
Member since:
2005-07-06

the only sane choice woulb be english as a common language and each country can do translations into their own language as they like.

but i'm sure the french will boycott it

Reply Score: 0

RE: english
by Trenien on Sat 3rd May 2008 16:22 UTC in reply to "english"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

Only the French?

May I ask which country you're from?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: english
by smashIt on Sat 3rd May 2008 19:45 UTC in reply to "RE: english"
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

austria (mozart, not kangaroo)

and i'd never propose german as an universal language. it's too complex for such a purpose.

english on the other hand is imho the simplest not-dead language

Edited 2008-05-03 19:47 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: english
by Trenien on Sat 3rd May 2008 20:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: english"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

Well, my first guess was any of the English speaking countries. German speaking countries were my second.

Honestly, it comes at no surprise that you find English easy to learn, considering the closeness of both language (to give you an idea there was a time when, living in the US, my fluency in both French and, mainly, English allowed me to understand the gist of what to Germans were saying beside me).

Believe, except for the people whose language is part of the Germanic family, nobody finds learning English easy in any way.

Reply Score: 2

The real issue is the cost of English
by Deminael on Fri 2nd May 2008 23:05 UTC
Deminael
Member since:
2008-05-02

The main issue with regard to the language policy in the EU is not the cost of the translation and of the interpretation. Translation and interpretation is needed to respect the language rights of the members of the european parliament. And all the laws must be translated to all the official languages.

The main issue is the discrimination for non English native speakers. The professor of economy François Grin wrote an article about the amount of money which is transfered to UK because English is more and more used as an international language in all the fields of the society (shools, universities, work, NGO, associations...). The transfer is at least 17 billions Euros a year. Esperanto would be a much better compromise and the EU could spare 25 billions Euros according to Grin.

English takes a lot of time to learn. It replaces other languages. Esperanto is much easier and leave place for the other languages.

Reply Score: 3

interlingua
by evert on Sat 3rd May 2008 05:03 UTC
evert
Member since:
2005-07-06

A big advantage of Esperanto is that the regularity of the language allows easier translation from Esperanto to other languages.

An alternative to Esperanto is Interlingua, although I would prefer Esperanto:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_and_Interlingua_compared

Edit: although Interlingua is maybe better for science:
"Alexander Gode, who was influential in the development of Interlingua, desired in part to preserve the international scientific vocabulary which was chiefly of Greek and Latin origin. Conversely, he also allowed into Interlingua words from any language, as long as they were international in scope."

Edited 2008-05-03 05:09 UTC

Reply Score: 3

stick to Latin
by unclefester on Sat 3rd May 2008 06:42 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

Latin is then best choice of a standard language. It has a totally consistent grammatical structure and spelling. It requires absolutely no punctuation such as exclamation, commas, quotes or question marks. It has no accent marks and only 24 letters. Pronunciation is easy and logical. The grammar with the exception of case is extremely simple. You only need one typeface as well - Roman.

Reply Score: 6

RE: stick to Latin
by Trenien on Sat 3rd May 2008 10:24 UTC in reply to "stick to Latin"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

But contrary to Esperanto and other such designed languages, it's hell to learn.

Reply Score: 1

A problem ?
by Francis Kuntz on Sat 3rd May 2008 09:21 UTC
Francis Kuntz
Member since:
2006-09-23

One of the biggest problems facing the European Union today is the fact that within its borders, 23 languages are spoken.

I believe that 23 languages spoken is a very good point. It means that there is a lot of different cultures we can learn from.

It costs more than 1 billions euros each year ? Great ! I much prefer pay than lose any of this languages.
If we start to get a common language, soon or late, it will be decided to drop all others.

Reply Score: 4

RE: A problem ?
by Googol on Sat 3rd May 2008 09:28 UTC in reply to "A problem ?"
Googol Member since:
2006-11-24

Exactly. Also, we can afford one billion easily. Heck, the members of EU parliament alone defraud the citizens of more than that every year without breaking a sweat. I see no problem here.

Reply Score: 1

natural development
by JrezIN on Sat 3rd May 2008 12:00 UTC
JrezIN
Member since:
2005-06-29

I don't think selecting a new language as standard will should any problems... actually, will just create new problems.
IF a language is declared as standard, it should be an existing one.

English is the most common second language in the world right now. it's the language of business and the language of science. But it doesn't mean that the EU union should adopt any language as standard. Maybe a international version of this language (like "Simple English") could be the standard one day... who knows? french as one the standard once... and before that italian and latin...

I'd much prefer a natural development of the subject than a artificial resolution (same reason esperanto failed to catch up)

Fun fact: English isn't even the official language of the United States of America.

Reply Score: 2

RE: natural development
by Trenien on Sat 3rd May 2008 16:30 UTC in reply to "natural development"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

"it's the language of business and the language of science"
I'll not discuss the "language of business" part, however I will as for the "language of science" one. Except for Mathematics, there is no language for sciences.

Fun fact: a few years ago, the Chinese were very interested in learning French because they wanted to be able to read major medical publications in their native language.
Considering how inept the current high level (French) decision-makers are I'm not sure how that ended up, but the willingness was there.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: natural development
by unclefester on Sun 4th May 2008 01:21 UTC in reply to "RE: natural development"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

There are now virtually no prestigious science journals in languages other than English. All major papers are now first submitted to English language science journals.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: natural development
by camel on Sun 4th May 2008 12:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: natural development"
camel Member since:
2005-06-29

All major papers are now first submitted to English language science journals.


Dont take that as a given for the future. There was a time, not too long ago, where the language in many scientific fields was german. (Try to look up physics papers from the turn of the 20th century)

Things can change. Is it inconceivable that some asian language will take that spot?

Reply Score: 1

Comment by unclefester
by unclefester on Sat 3rd May 2008 12:13 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

English has 800,000 words and 400,000 jargon terms. It has thousands of homophones and homonyms [deer dear (expensive) dear (beloved) saw (tool) saw (to see)]. The spelling and pronunciation are totally inconsistent. It uses prefixes with totally different meaning such as homo (man) and homo (the same as). English is derived mostly from a mixture of Romance and Germanic languages with totally different grammar to either.

Many people can speak English but virtually no one ever masters it including native speakers. With the possible exception of Russian amd Finnish it is the hardest European language to learn. For those who already speak English it is a great advantage. For many others it is a hugely difficult task to learn.

Reply Score: 2

Thom Holwerda wrote...
by Anonymous Penguin on Sat 3rd May 2008 13:11 UTC
Anonymous Penguin
Member since:
2005-07-06

"Speech-to-speech translation is one of the most difficult language-related activities you can engage in.
..........................................
You need to know both the source as well as the target language inside-out, and especially when the translating is done 'live', you need to be able to keep up with the speakers."

I know pretty well a few European languages and local dialects. One of the main problems when translating is that some words and idioms which exist in one language, simply don't in another, because they are expression of a given culture.
For instance you know better than me that "gezellig" doesn't translate well into English.

http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl/155-gezellig

"Gezellig - a word that encompasses the heart of Dutch Culture"

Edited 2008-05-03 13:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Thom Holwerda wrote...
by irbis on Sat 3rd May 2008 13:51 UTC in reply to "Thom Holwerda wrote..."
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

Agreed. To understand languages really well, you will have to understand the surrounding culture well too. Besides, in the context of the EU, could computers ever understand all the intricacies of diplomatic and political talk?

I would not like to see the III World War starting just because of severe bugs or shortcomings in the machine translating software resulting in diplomatic misunderstandings... ;)

Anyway, the article at least shows some hope in the very difficult field of automatic speech-to-speech translation. But the article may be a tad bit too optimistic and scientistic. I would never trust automatic machine translations instead of human translators except as an extra help when human translators are not available.

Reply Score: 2

As a Brit
by ameasures on Sat 3rd May 2008 15:44 UTC
ameasures
Member since:
2006-01-09

English is a sort of a logical choice for the EU but frankly the British put themselves at a massive disadvantage by the fact that almost all of them speak only one language.

Anything that seems likely to push modern languages further down the British educational agenda is a BAD thing.

I did the Nijmegen marches aged ~15 and was seriously struck by having detailed discussions with Dutch primary school kids in English. Very few British kids could (then) keep up with a similar conversation in (say) French.

Part of my perspective here is the suspicion that people who only speak one language are more likely to be narrow, intolerant and bigotted. Such people are more likely to switch to hostile confrontation rather than realising sensible compromises are possible.

And yes, I am an English monoglot.

Reply Score: 2

RE: As a Brit
by Trenien on Sat 3rd May 2008 16:44 UTC in reply to "As a Brit"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

"I did the Nijmegen marches aged ~15 and was seriously struck by having detailed discussions with Dutch primary school kids in English. Very few British kids could (then) keep up with a similar conversation in (say) French."

That's another reason I'm against having any of the natural languages as the main one in Europe. As an English (as a foreign language) teacher I know that the Northern European country situation is exceptional: nowhere else in Europe do the people, as a rule, fluently speak more than one language.
That situation is especially bad in the Southern European countries.

It'd be much better to have everybody learn an easy linga franca (Esperanto, for instance).

Reply Score: 1

A common language for Europe
by zamenhof on Sat 3rd May 2008 15:52 UTC
zamenhof
Member since:
2008-05-03

Europe needs a common language as well and Esperanto is, quite rightly now gaining the credence it deserves.
You may wish to check this on http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670
You will also be able to hear Esperanto spoken, because it is a living language!

Reply Score: 1

Toad
Member since:
2005-11-27

I think its crazy to not standardize EU's bureaucracy on one language, translation will be costly and there will always be problem on what interpretation is correct. A nightmare with courts. But outside the Unions bureaucracy I don't think English should be a requirement. Too many people (especially the french) would not accept that. In reality the working language in EU IS English, even the french who work for EU acknowledge it, and is in fact using it in private.

Reply Score: 1

Let us look at the costs
by dmantione on Sun 4th May 2008 08:59 UTC
dmantione
Member since:
2005-07-06

The argument against using many languages is always that it costs so much money. Surely, 1 milliard euro is a lot of money and nice things can be done if it would be spent otherwise.

Of course, 1 milliard is not the cost of interpretation in the EU parliament, or the cost of having translation present at press conferences. This is the total cost of the translation departments.

Let us take a look at the price of elimination of these translation departments. In such case, national goverments would need to add translation departments, since laws can only be enforced in the national language. Not only the laws need to be translated, but all documents around them, national parliaments need them in the national language.

The EU would no longer be able to inform the public themselves, since to few people speak English. This task would be up to national goverments as well.

The EU would no longer be able to deal with citizens, companies, etcetera in their national language. This would reduce the effectiveness of communication (elminate it in some cases), meaning much more money would need to be spent on communication.

It is not hard to imagine, that having an EU translation department translate a new EU legislation into the 23 official languages, is much more efficient than having 27 national governments translate the legislation into their national language.

It is not hard to imagine, that designing a folder about an EU topic once and have it translated by a translation department is much more efficient than having national governments each design their own folder about that topic.

It is not hard to imagine that addressing the EU citizens in one single language is not very effective.

Then there is the issue that EU translators are very efficient. By having decades of experience of translating documents in many languages, the translation infrastructure of the EU translation deparments in unmatched, worldwide. EU translator has up to three times the productivity as an average person working in translation.

Summing up, one single language doesn't make as much sense from a perspective of saving money. People who make such claims seldomly know what they are talking about, they think they can save 1 milliard euros a year, which simply isn't true. The amount of money that can be saved is much lower, and you have to be very carefull that you don't increase the costs for everyone.

This is besides all the political and democratic issues that a single language has. Don't worry, there is big change that two EU politicians are talking English when they meet themselves in a non-official situation. English is already the dominant language for internal use in the EU.

Calls for one language are mostly populism, rather than practical proposals.

Reply Score: 2

Misconception on French attitude
by Deminael on Sun 4th May 2008 12:26 UTC
Deminael
Member since:
2008-05-02

I read in some comments that the French government or the elite of this country want to protect the French language and that there are againt dominance of the English language.

Like other political point of views regarding global economy for example, the opinion of the elite on languages changes a lot in a just a few years. What can't be said in 1990, becomes possible in 2000.

In 1986, a French journalist spoke about the relation between economical supremacy and the linguistic supremacy in order to explain the situation of English. Today journalists just speak about English as being the "international language for communication". The report "Thélot" or the French minister Claude Allègre mentioned a few years ago the need to not consider English as a foreign language. And a few months ago Sarkozy asked Darcos (education minister) to make the French "bilingual" without even mentioning the 2nd language because it is obviously English. Nowadays in the media, "to speak foreign languages" means "to speak English".

The gaullist right wing has almost disappeared. The only groups which defend the French language are:
- some communists (Georges Hages: http://www.defenselanguefrancaise.org/)
- some associations (DLF, AFRAV...)
- esperantists (http://www.ed-e-.org, http://agirpourlanglais.blogspot.com)
- some trade unions (no web site but you can contact them here : collectif at voxlatina point com)

As you can see, they are only small groups. So don't expect the French to do a lot to promote national languages. Chirac protected language diversity a little bit but both Royal and Sarkozy promote the English language. The resistance must be organized in all countries.

Reply Score: 1

Esperanto is a poor choice
by IsaacB on Mon 5th May 2008 10:21 UTC
IsaacB
Member since:
2006-05-31

Some people here are suggesting Esperanto as the common language for the EU. Even though I support the idea of an IAL (International Auxiliary Language), Esperanto is far, far from adequate for the job. I have a hunch that for most people, International Language = Esperanto, and I'd wish they'd do some research on the (fascinating) area of IALs first.

Esperanto was conceived by a well-meaning eye doctor, not by a professional linguist. If this doesn't bother you, think of an international language as an immense and extremely important engineering project; You wouldn't want it to be handled by amateurs.

We have learned so much since the late 19th century in the area of interlinguistics, that today Esperanto looks clunky and the product of a child. It is certainly not regular (the common myth) or logical (quite a few ambiguous points),and for my ear at least, not pleasant at all. The fact that some people are fluent in Esperanto only proves that an IAL can be used practically, not only Esperanto necessarily.

Almost every major IAL conceived since Esperanto is better: Ido, Novial, Interlingua, Glosa, Lingua Franca Nova (my favorite). Do not default in your thinking to Esperanto, and try to find out what else is out there. Wikipedia is a good start. Just my off-topic $0.02...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Esperanto is a poor choice
by remush on Tue 6th May 2008 08:58 UTC in reply to "Esperanto is a poor choice"
remush Member since:
2008-05-05

read http://remush.be/rebuttal/index.html
You'll find there other stupid reasons not to learn Esperanto.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Esperanto is a poor choice
by remush on Tue 6th May 2008 14:56 UTC in reply to "Esperanto is a poor choice"
remush Member since:
2008-05-05

Also read http://remush.be/rebuttal/index.html .
Unfortunately it does not contain all the stupidities that have been written (chiefly in english) against Esperanto.
I can add that most Esperantists are tired to answer to this kind of arguments and this is a very wise attitude.
How do you react when people tell you that English is rubbish? You politely shut up an think: learn it first properly, asshole!

Reply Score: 1

vilcxjo
Member since:
2008-05-05

I'm an esperantist in the US, so I don't really have a right to an opinion. But if EO was an EU standard, then the EU would assert some ownership over it. The existing EO standards bodies would almost certainly be ignored and replaced by people whose agenda is more political than linguistic. I'd rather see EO be adopted organically than be adopted by mandate.

Reply Score: 1

Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

But, considering the geopolitical state of the world right now, isn't it somewhat illusory to hope to reach the "critical mass" in a reasonable time frame?

Sure, If the EU decided to make it an official curriculum, the risk you describe would be there. However, critical mass would be achieved within 10-20 years (especially since I've no doubt that China would immediatly jump on the bandwagon).

I wonder whether there's been any kind of lobbying to the Council of Europe about it. Anybody knows?

Edited 2008-05-06 10:01 UTC

Reply Score: 1