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The language big fight between European Community Association (English)
From;    Author:Stand originally


Gallic And Teuton Feathers Have Been Ruffled By Moves To Promote English As The Official EC Language, writes Andrew Osborn

Friday August 10, 2001, guardian Unlimited

Any Attempt To Demolish Europe''s Tottering Linguistic Tower Of Babel Was Always Going To Be Controversial And So It Is That A New Plan To Have Just One Working Language At The European Commission Instead Of The Current Three Has Sparked Outrage In Certai.

The One Language - It Is Feared And Probably With Good Reason - Will Be English, meaning That The Two Other Working Languages Currently In Use (French And German) Would Be All But Redundant And This, perhaps Unsurprisingly, has Not Gone Down Well In Paris Or Berlin.

In Fact, the Two Countries Are So Concerned By The Proposals, drawn Up By The Commission Itself, that Their Respective Foreign Ministers Hubert Vedrine And Joschka Fischer Have Written A Joint Letter To Commission President Romano Prodi Protesting The Move.

The Plan Would, they Say, be "unacceptable" , would "promote Unilingualism" And Not Be In The [rarely Honoured] Spirit "communataire" Of The European Union.

The French Press Has Taken Up The Issue With Its Customary Ardour Talking Of An Attempted "linguistic Coup D''etat" And Muttering Darkly About An Anglo-Saxon Plot To Impose English On Europe''s 370m Citizens.

The Stakes Are High, for With As Many As 13 Applicant Countries Queuing Up To Join At The EU At The Earliest Opportunity, the Linguistic Battle Is On For The Hearts And Minds Of The Newcomers.

Since It Will Clearly Be Impractical To Expand The EU''s Official 11 Languages (into Which EU Legislation Is Translated As Opposed To The Three Working Languages Used By The Commission) Then A Crucial Question Will Sooner Or Later Have To Be Answered.

Which Linguistic Fence Will The Mostly East European Newcomers Opt To Sit Upon?

This Latest Dispute Is Probably Only The Initial Skirmish In What Is Likely To Be A Protracted Linguistic Scrap.

The Commission For Its Part Argues That Having Just One Working Language Instead Of Three Will Save Time And Money, and Is A Good Idea Against The Backdrop Of Its Drive To Reform And Modernise Itself.

"About 10 Years Ago 70% Of The Paperwork In The Commission Was In French, but The Balance Has Now Tipped Towards English. There Has Been A Generational Change And English Is The Language That Young People Are Learning. Nobody Is Going To Change That Drift, "Says One Commission Official.

Spokesmen Stress That The Proposals Are In An Embryonic Stage And Will Not Sweep Away The Multilingualism So Coveted By The French And The Germans.

But The French, sensitive At The Best Of Times About The Inexorable March Of The English Language At The Expense Of The Language Of Moliere, are Not Convinced. "What Is The Dream Of All Eurocrats? "French Daily Newspaper Liberation Asked Its Readers.
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