Στη στήλη του, στον Economist της 15ης Ιουνίου, ο Charlemagne υποστηρίζει ότι η έξοδος του ΗΒ από την ΕΕ θα είναι ιδανική ευκαιρία για να γίνουν τα αγγλικά η επίσημη κοινή γλώσσα της Ένωσης.

Συμφωνώ ολόψυχα. Αντιγράφω το δεύτερο μισό του άρθρου:

The most compelling objection is that replacing Europe’s babel with a common discourse in English is elitist. Yet that is precisely why the EU should do more to promote it as the definitive language of European exchange. Its current agnosticism has created a Europe where a brahmin class of multilingual university graduates can breeze from country to country and dominate pan-European debates. A firmer commitment to English at European and national levels would help extend that skill to Europeans who currently lack it.

The choice is ultimately not between an Anglophone Europe and a truly polyglot Europe but between wishful thinking and realism. Nicolas Véron, a French economist in Brussels, notes that English is already in effect the working language of the EU; a development that helped him and others set up Bruegel, one of the first genuinely pan-EU think-tanks, in 2005. Some 97% of 13-year-olds in the EU are learning English. The number of English-language university courses has risen from 725 in 2002 to over 8,000. Continent-wide political movements work overwhelmingly in English: the website and social-media accounts of Fridays for Future are in English, as are those of the right-populist Identitarian movement. At a rally of nationalist leaders in Milan before the European elections, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, Czech and German leaders all addressed the Italian crowd, to cheers, in English.

Spread the word
Formally acknowledging such realities would enable the EU and national governments to focus more resources on spreading English skills. Resources—some perhaps freed by shrinking the EU’s mammoth translation operation—could go towards teaching the language to older and less-educated workers. It would spur more media organisations to publish in English and thus nurture the emergence of a genuinely pan-European media.

The biggest barrier is symbolic. “The language of Europe is translation,” wrote Umberto Eco, an Italian author. The EU is proud of its everyday multilingualism, which becomes more fluent and accessible with every year as the use of machine translation tools grows. Yet the adoption of English as a common language should be seen not as a challenge but as a complement to this tradition. Europe is about diversity, and its patchwork of languages and dialects must be promoted and protected. But it is also about the sort of unity that is possible only with a common tongue, even imperfectly spoken. Universalising English while upholding the EU’s native languages would be not a betrayal of the cosmopolitan European ideal, but its affirmation.


Στις συναλλαγές με άλλες χώρες, μέσα και έξω από την Ευρώπη, θα είναι πολύ κουτό να σκεφτεί κανείς να αλλάξει την αγγλική με κάποια άλλη γλώσσα. Αντιθέτως, τώρα που το ΗΒ θα είναι έξω από την ΕΕ και ανταγωνιστικό προς αυτήν, δεν θα πρέπει να μπορεί να προβάλλει την αγγλική σαν επιχείρημα της ευκολίας στις συναλλαγές. Οι επιχειρηματίες το γνωρίζουν ήδη αυτό πολύ καλά, ας το εμπεδώσουν κι οι υπόλοιποι.

Υπάρχει φόβος να πάψει η αγγλική να είναι μια από τις επίσημες γλώσσες; Κάτι τέτοιο θα πρέπει να αποφασιστεί με ομοφωνία των κρατών μελών και νομίζω ότι η Ιρλανδία και η Μάλτα, που έχουν την αγγλική σαν μία από τις δύο επίσημες γλώσσες τους, δεν θα επιτρέψουν μια τέτοια βλακεία.