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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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 Parent Score: 7

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by tinypea on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:26 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 Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by mat69 on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:44 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 Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by Moulinneuf on Sat 3rd May 2008 11:55 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 Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by kaiwai on Sat 3rd May 2008 12:54 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 Parent Score: 0

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by Trenien on Sat 3rd May 2008 13:16 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 Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: What's the problem?
by PLan on Sat 3rd May 2008 22:50 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 Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: What's the problem?
by Trenien on Mon 5th May 2008 15:10 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 Parent Score: 1