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This already surfaced in another thread, and I got some flak, but here it comes again:

From Financial Times:

Senior French officials are mounting a rearguard action to defend the use of French at the United Nations and other international institutions as an international language of diplomacy in the face of the inexorable rise of English.

Paris's renewal of its efforts to secure the future of French in international circles, is partly prompted by the appointment of Britain's Lady Ashton to head the European Union's foreign policy in November.

Her faltering French, once unthinkable in a top EU official, has been seized upon by the French media, reflecting concerns in Paris that the diplomatic machinery she is building will be Anglophone.

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the former prime minister who is President Nicolas Sarkozy's special envoy to promote French, was in New York at the end of last week to insist that its status as one of the two working languages at the UN must be respected.

French sensitivities about the declining role of the language were underlined mid-week when Gerard Araud, France's multilingual ambassador to the UN, declined to outline the programme for his country's presidency of the UN Security Council in English, even as aides scurried to set up translation facilities.

"I don't speak English. Point," Mr Araud told the UN's majority English-speaking press corps. "It's unacceptable!" he said.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f69c61e6-1452-11df-8847-00144feab4...

Ridiculous. The EU has 27 or sth official languages now. The cost for interpreters and translators rise exponentially for each new member state. A cost that is completely unnecessary, as humans are designed to be perfectly bilingual, especially if starting at a young age. And IF EU should have two languages, then there is nothing saying one must be French.

Patriotism is pathetic.

Clinging to your own language is also bad for your acquisition of other languages. I regularly get e-mails through couchsurfing.org, a community about staying with people for free when traveling. After reading the above article, I get this e-mail:

hi,
i live in [city name] (i am a low student), and here in the
dormitory i met [boy's name] (medecin's student)- he is
Erasmus here in France for one year.
We bought a ticket from Paris withe ryanair - it cost 8
euro! (i have a chance)!

So, that's the English of a "low" student at a prestigious European university. I see a connection.
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1. I presume the article misrendered the French ambassador's statement which was probably, "Je ne parle Anglais point," meaning, "I don't speak English at all."

2. If your point is that the UN and/or EU "wastes" money on interpreters, then if the UN and/or EU had one language (be it English or whatever) then either one would still need interpreters or one would exclude lots of capable people not fluent in the given language. Native speakers of whatever language were chosen would have an unfair advantage.

3. All this ignores the patently political dimension of choosing an official language. Why for example should the English speakers who can speak French not do so? Often there are political reasons, many quite valid.
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DCAnderson wrote:
There are more people speaking fucking Javanese in the world than there are people speaking French..


You got some kind of problem with the good people of Java?

Back to the point. Agreed in full. All hail English as the sole language of communication in the EU. Vive le France, but fuck the Francophony and double fuck the French mandated idiocy that is the monthly move of the EU parliament to Strassbourg.

The French: love to spend my money on their patriotism.


Edit: fernch/Utch/Englis: I cnnt splell
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whac3 wrote:
2. If your point is that the UN and/or EU "wastes" money on interpreters, then if the UN and/or EU had one language (be it English or whatever) then either one would still need interpreters or one would exclude lots of capable people not fluent in the given language. Native speakers of whatever language were chosen would have an unfair advantage.

3. All this ignores the patently political dimension of choosing an official language. Why for example should the English speakers who can speak French not do so? Often there are political reasons, many quite valid.


I think Mon is referring to the language of the numorous civil servants crwoding the EU corridors who are now more or less forced to speak French or use interpreters, which IS a waste.
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Mondainai wrote:
Patriotism is pathetic.

Clinging to your own language is also bad for your acquisition of other languages.


Esperanto http://en.lernu.net/should be the official language.
It's the only hope (multilingual pun intented) for english speaking aborigines to open their mind.
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DCAnderson wrote:
The French seem completely unable to cope with the fact that their language is growing irrelevant in 21st century.

I remember recently that I read the list of the top most commonly spoken languages in the world, and French was way far down the list.

Can you guess what language was just ahead of French?

Javanese.

There are more people speaking fucking Javanese in the world than there are people speaking French.

The French really need to get over themselves.

I have never understood some Americans' anti-French bigotry.

First, as a philologist, I can assure you that Javanese outranking French as the most used language is simply non-sense. It might be due to the size of the island of Java's population that Javanese has a lot of speakers, but the language simply is not used outside of Java. French is not only spoken natively by people in Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa and the Pacific Islands, but is a fluent second language for countless others-- including my wife and myself. Yet I for one have never even been to France.

Multilingualism should be strongly encouraged. Knowing multiple languages and dealing with languages one does not know helps one think less provincially and in so doing promotes tolerance. Rather than the French needing to get over themselves, I think anti-French bigots need to do so.

To the OP, I don't see any bigotry, but the Scandinavian countries' choice to teach everyone English is as much a political choice as anything else. Why should other countries feel the need to follow suit? For example, the Irish had their language banned for centuries by the English in favor of English. As a result, virtually every single speaker of Irish speaks English fluently, but Irish is still the official first language and every school child must study it. Should Irish be banned by the EU and/or UN again in the same way as the once repressive English?
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whac3 wrote:
1. I presume the article misrendered the French ambassador's statement which was probably, "Je ne parle Anglais point," meaning, "I don't speak English at all."
If the French ambassador to the UN doesn't speak English at all, then the state of France is even worse than I thought.

whac3 wrote:
2. If your point is that the UN and/or EU "wastes" money on interpreters, then if the UN and/or EU had one language (be it English or whatever) then either one would still need interpreters or one would exclude lots of capable people not fluent in the given language.
Maybe the UN translates everything to-from English, in which case they just waste twice the money than if everyone there could speak English. But the EU translates/interprets directly in all permutations. Swedish-English. Swedish-French. French-English. Swedish-Slovakian. English-Slovakian. You do the math and tell me it's not a waste of money. (And I'm a translator! I prosper from this.)

whac3 wrote:
Native speakers of whatever language were chosen would have an unfair advantage.
It's unfair that you and I were born to intelligent and caring parents, while a lot of people were not. Learning to communicate with people from another part of the world is to me not too much to ask from a diplomat. And just as I don't want bureaucrats in Stockholm who insist on speaking a for most Swedes unintelligible Gutnish, I don't want bureaucrats in Brussels who can't work professionally in another language than Slovakian.

Native English speakers need to adjust as well, however. When I say "English", I don't mean the sounds that leaves mouths in Southern London, Minneapolis or New Zeeland. I mean the medium that makes people able to communicate with each other across national boundaries.

whac3 wrote:
3. All this ignores the patently political dimension of choosing an official language. Why for example should the English speakers who can speak French not do so? Often there are political reasons, many quite valid.
Because I wouldn't understand what they say. We need to choose one language out of the 100 we have in the union, and practical facts have made this English. The idea of having the whole union speak French doesn't make sense in a world where English is the first international language kids learn.
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Venga2 wrote:
Vive le France, but fuck the Francophony and double fuck the French mandated idiocy that is the monthly move of the EU parliament to Strassbourg.
That's my next thread. Unfortunately, it'll die instantly, as there won't be anyone here to defend it. Because Strasbourg-supporters normally don't speak enough English to get anything out of international forums.

Btw, I think La France is a woman.

Venga2 wrote:
Edit: fernch/Utch/Englis: I cnnt splell
I hate spelling English. First thing EU should do after making this THE official language, is to radically change the spelling of it. That should give the screwed-over non-English patriots some blood in return.
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"The first international language kids learn" is not everywhere English and some do not generally learn English at all. Yes, it costs money but the need for translators would not be eliminated because there would be people who do not speak English or do not speak it well.

I have worked as a document translator myself in multiple languages but the facts remain.
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Sr. Ulé wrote:
Mondainai wrote:
Patriotism is pathetic.

Clinging to your own language is also bad for your acquisition of other languages.


Esperanto http://en.lernu.net/should be the official language.
It's the only hope (multilingual pun intented) for english speaking aborigines to open their mind.

Uh-huh.

With all due respect to Dr. Z., I think even he knew this was a pipe dream, and English was not the pre-dominant language of politics then at all. Esperanto has no native speakers and ignores the fact that an official language is inherently political. I have heard a trained linguist refer to it as a complicated code, although I consider it an artificial language. It'd not solve any problems, but it would exacerbate them as every person made Esperanto resemble their native language as much as possible in grammar and syntax if not in morphology.
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whac3 wrote:
"The first international language kids learn" is not everywhere English and some do not generally learn English at all. Yes, it costs money but the need for translators would not be eliminated because there would be people who do not speak English or do not speak it well.
What I mean with "first international" is that its the first to learn after regional languages. Of course immigrant kids in Sweden learn Swedish first, Chinese children start with Mandarin and West Africans French.
 
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Mondainai wrote:
Btw, I think La France is a woman.


Should have shaved her bloody armpits then.
 
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DCAnderson wrote:
For instance: The French Academy. They are completely nuts. My cousin from France was telling me how they were trying really hard to get French people to stop using the word "email" in favor of of a French word which basically just means "letter". It was vague to the point of meaningless, all in the name of protecting their "perfect" language from being dirtied by English influence.
Which is ironic as most English words are French to begin with.

Mail
From Middle English male (“‘bag, mail’”), from Old French male "bag, wallet", of Germanic origin, from Frankish *malha from Proto-Germanic *malho- (“‘bag, pouch’”), from Proto-Indo-European *molko- (“‘leather pouch’”).
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DCAnderson wrote:
...the day when the internet causes all the world's languages to merge into a great "omni-pidgin" ...

Omni-pidginers
of the world unite!
We need an OMNI-PIDGIN microbadge. I would buy it immediately!

Kudos for Dan for sharing his dream.
 
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I absolutely agree that English should be THE official language of the EU and the UN. In fact, it should be the official language of Earth, period. Otherwise, how will we as a species ever realize the dream of Gene Roddenberry in establishing a United Federation of Planets?



Of course, now that President Obama has cancelled the US manned space flight program, maybe we don't have to worry about the Federation. Telle est la vie.

Then again, perhaps we could aim for Roddenberry's vision of an alternate universe Terran Empire! In this vision, we would just destroy the cities of those who refuse to speak English!

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I have been able to personally speak in English to Norwegians, Finns, Swedes, Dutch, Italians, Poles, Indians, Pakistanis and, yes, several French people; this short list excludes the obvious such as Irish, Scots, Welsh, Canadians, Americans, New Zealanders, Australians, South Africans, Zimbabweans. I think the point is not really how many people can speak English, but how many Countries already use it as a first or second language.

Mondainai wrote:

Ridiculous. The EU has 27 or so official languages now. The cost for interpreters and translators rise exponentially for each new member state.

The impact of multiple languages may not be clear from what has already been written, so permit me to demonstrate.

With 27 official languages, when an ambassador who speaks a 28th language is appointed he will need 27 interpreters himself, and the speakers of the other 27 languages will each need one additional interpreter. Total = 54.

But with a single "official language" it is only the new ambassador who needs an additional interpreter, and he only needs one. Each of the other ambassadors only need a total of one each instead of 27, and presumably there will be more than one ambassador who needs none at all.

The point of an official language is not to eliminate all other languages, it is to reduce the burden of accurate translation, so the French need not fear for their language at all. There are plenty of people (me included) who learned French as a second language too, it is a pretty language, just not a very common one.

Resistance to the ever-expanding language base has been rising for the past 20 years in the EU.
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The thing is that realistically, if there were a push for a monolingual EU or UN, the political flak would not be justified by the saved costs. Language is too deeply a political issue and if nothing else the nation(s) speaking the official language would be perceived and/or portrayed for political reasons as dominating, no matter how true or untrue this might actually be.
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Wasn't there a brief proposal to make Latin the official language of the EU? No native speakers, equally dead for everyone, and gives the Italians a much needed boost of self-esteem.
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dysjunct wrote:
Wasn't there a brief proposal to make Latin the official language of the EU? No native speakers, equally dead for everyone, and gives the Italians a much needed boost of self-esteem.


I really do not think it is needed to boost Italian self-esteem even further. Now Belgians on the other hand...
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Mondainai wrote:
[M]ost English words are French to begin with.


No. This is not true. While English and French are both Indo-European, and while the Norman conquest kicked a not-insubstantial amount of French into the English language, most English words are not borrowed or derived from French.

As a random side note, I recently read a book -- Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter -- that presented some ideas about the development of the English language (e.g., the influence of Celtic languages) that I hadn't heard before and found fascinating.

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whac3 wrote:
The thing is that realistically, if there were a push for a monolingual EU or UN, the political flak would not be justified by the saved costs. Language is too deeply a political issue and if nothing else the nation(s) speaking the official language would be perceived and/or portrayed for political reasons as dominating, no matter how true or untrue this might actually be.
I retreat regarding the UN. USA is too big a player for an anglification of the UN to not be regarded as an Americanization.

But I still insist in the EU case. Because here, UK is just a little island. It could never be perceived as "dominating". The reason we have a British "foreign minister" is because UK in EU affairs is regarded as a relatively small and neutral player, just like we have a moron from Belgium as "president". UK shares second place with France and Italy, after Germany and a bit ahead of Spain and Poland, in terms of population and votes. And the relative insignificance of the country is growing with every new member state. So English is to me rather "neutral". Just like most heavy EU institutions are placed in "neutral" Belgium/Luxembourg.

And as stated, I wouldn't mind a European academy polishing the language like its own, just like national academies do. For example by adopting American spelling, which makes more sense 9 times out of 10. That should make it even "fairer".
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I don't really care, to be honest.

And stoopid is who calls patriotism stoopid does.
 
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DCAnderson wrote:
Nooooooooo.

Language academies are bad.

Half the reason English does as well as it does, is because there is no anal retentive Language Academy stunting the growth of the language by telling everyone what is "proper" English.
Do you know how much time is wasted on this earth when we have a billion school children trying to learn how to spell English? Many billion hours. That could have been spent on mathematics. Or more English.

And while kids in Scotland and London and San Diego (well, some of them) get English from their parents naturally, most European kids learn it from a teacher, who plays tapes for them. And someone should decide what should be on those tapes. Should you be on those tapes, DC? The English Queen? Stephen Fry? Whatever it is, it should be similar across Europe, it should not be tied to a certain nation and it should be a clear-cut and "neutral" accent, whatever that is. And easy to pronunce, for Indians and Chinese alike. For example by getting rid of the "th" and make it "d", and by pinning down the vowels, define what they're supposed to be. This could be done in cooperation with India, another entity using English as lingua Franca (at least until some of them got all hindu-nationalist and pathetically patriot).

And kids in England should learn the same accent in their "European English" class. At the moment, I don't hear what English people say, no one does. Until they crack and shout: "Fo focks seik we invantad this language!"

I'm not talking about teaching people what to speak with their friends and family. Skanish, Arab, Scottish people should talk their own language or whatever they feel like in their natural environment. I'm talking about making a platform for easy intra-European communications, for business and bureaucracy.
 
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DCAnderson wrote:
All dat is going to happen is dat dee "English academy" English will drift apart from dee American English to dee point where no one who learns "Academy English" will be able to understand real English when dey see it.

Also turning "th" into "d" is dee gayest shit ever and makes it look like I'm writing in Middle English. Fuck dat shit.
I'm not too sure about the details, but I'm sure it should be the same across Europe and that it shouldn't be tied to a certain nation.

It's just so silly to see for example Taiwanese kids practice hard to learn perfect Australian pronunciation, in order to be able to communicate with Japanese and Swedes. Fuck dat.

Hell, let's make all voices on all English audio files for all EU schools be Dutch voices. Dat should make it.

We're more dan you are. De "th" will become as international as de pound, de inch, de fahrenheit De "th" won't even see Russia from its kitchen window laugh laugh laugh
 
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DCAnderson wrote:
It's their fucking language and I'm going to learn it the way they do it.
Yes, and I'm talking about our fucking language, not your fucking language. Keep your fucking language any way you fucking want.

But it's good dat you're learning Japanese system. Dat should give you an idea what a "fonetik system" is like.

かんたあああああああああああああああああん! ソー カンファタブル!!

And let me know if you ever come across a kanji that's harder to write than anathestetic or acquintaince. I haven't found one yet.
 
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