English anybody??

Old Mar 1st, 2001, 06:35 AM
No Wonder!!
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English is still on the march
Feb 22nd 2001 | BRUSSELS
From The Economist print edition

Britons are lazy about languages because English is the EUís lingua franca

IS ENGLISH becoming the European Unionís tongue? A survey, out this week, of the linguistic skills of 16,000 of the Unionís citizens suggests that it is well on the way. Perhaps more surprisingly, it also suggests that more and more (non-British) Europeans accept the idea that all Europeans should learn English

Old Mar 1st, 2001, 07:21 AM
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No wonder, get your facts right (and try to acquire a sense of humour),

Swiss has FOUR national languages: German, French, Italian and Rumantsch. Most Swiss can speak at least two. The Swiss parliament is talking about making English the SECOND language we all learn since primary school, instead of one of the other national language, NOT the only official language of Switzerland, and this in order to boost economic competitivity.

The opinion of the Economist about the reasons the British are reluctant to learn other languages is no scientific fact, just an opinion, and most countries in the EU are not ready to agree on English as the only lingua franca. Furthermore, German should be the common language of the EU, not English, given the state of the British economy compared to Germany .
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 07:50 AM
No Wonder!!
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Dearest Florence:

Can't argue with a swiss. (My brother in law is Swiss-Italian)

Old Mar 1st, 2001, 08:15 AM
Steve Mueller
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The Economist based its conclusion that the majority of UK citizens are reluctant to learn a second language on the number of those citizens that admitted being monolingual.

Also, the earlier Economist article concerning the teaching of English as a second language in Switzerland, addressed the anger of French-speaking Swiss citizens at the tendency of so many German-speaking Swiss citizens to learn English, rather than French, as a second language. Once again, the question must be posed: When will French-speaking people accept the fact that their language is no longer preferred by those that dominate the world economically, intellectually and technologically? Coercing some poor German-speaking Swiss kid to learn French (when he or she really wants to learn English) is not going to change that basic fact. The French Empire died with Napoleon.

Economic reality dictates that, with the exception of undeveloped parts of the world, English will eventually be spoken by the majority of citizens. A century from now, local European languages will be quaint tourist attractions, spoken only by historians and Euro Disney employees.
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 08:34 AM
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This is such a daft discussion. Why do we all have to be the same? The rich diversity of culture and language is what makes the world (and travel) so interesting.

But while I'm here - an argument for learning english over german or french as a second language. It's not just because of america. English is the first language of 3 out of 8 of the G8 countries (UK, USA, Canada). It is the second most widely spoken first language in the world (after Mandarin) - again, not just because of america, but UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, various Carribean countries. It is also the most spoken second language in the world, mainly because countries of the former GB empire speak it as a second language (eg India - soon to overtake China as the most overpopulated country).

So really, the world speaks english NOT because of the USA, but because of the British rampaging round the globe. It's why USA speaks english, after all.
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 08:59 AM
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"Swiss citizens at the tendency of so many German-speaking Swiss citizens to learn English, rather than French, as a second language"

I do think it's a shame that people inside the same country don't learn their fellow countrymen's language.

"When will French-speaking people accept the fact that their language is no longer preferred by those that dominate the world"

Actually, most frenchs don't know that french used to be an "universal language" at some point of the history. So I doubt they mourn a situation they're unaware of. They've strong bonds
with their language, but it's another problem, and it seems quite natural. Do you really believe spanishs or germans think in a different way?

"The French Empire died with Napoleon"

I strongly doubt that Swiss (even the french-speaking one) mourn the napoleonic era, either.

"Economic reality dictates that, with the exception of undeveloped parts of the world, English will eventually be spoken by the majority of citizens A century from now..."

You should be *very* careful when imagining the world a century from now.
Look at the growth rates in numerous develloping countries and ask yourself where the centers of "economical, intellectual and technical" dominance could be within....not even 100, but merely 30 years, and wich languages kids could be willing to learn at this time.

"local European languages will be quaint tourist attractions, spoken only by historians and Euro Disney employees"

I strongly doubt it. Killing a living language is extremely difficult, especially when it's spoken by dozens of millions of educated people. France (and some other countries) went to great lenghts to kill local dialects, spoken by a limited number of illiterate people, and didn't succeed completely. The only way is to forbid its use in school, not allow books, newspapers, radios and TV broadcast in this language, etc...Do you really expect such a situation?

Also, if there's a movement toward globalization, in the same time, there's also a strong support for regionalization. The Catalan seems to be well alive, and is certainly less useful than french.

Don't worry, your grandsons will still hear these funny european languages when heading to the wonderful Euro-Manga park with all these loud chinese tourists wearing trendy saris (with black socks).

Should I write, paraphrasing you :

"When will English-speaking people accept the fact that we're going toward a multipolar world where no language or civilization will dominate the world economically, intellectually and technologically?"
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 09:27 AM
Steve Mueller
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I was being a smart aleck when I suggested that only historians and Euro Disney employees would speak French a century from now. As food for thought, however, how many contemporary Italians speak Latin?

I suspect that English will have a long run as the dominant global language simply because it is entrenched at a time of unprecedented globalization. How many computer langauges are written in French, German or Japanese? An overwhelming percentage of web sites use English as the sole language. As non-US companies expand, their CEO's are frequently replaced by English-speaking managers. Even political inept riff-raff like the anti-WTO protesters carry English-language placards when demonstrating in places like Prague.

Finally, I do believe that the Spanish and Germans are less threatened by English, and more willing to adopt English as a second language, than the French.
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 09:59 AM
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I am amazed by the number of Europeans that speak multiple languages. I have to wonder what the Europeans think now that the US has a president who doesn't even speak one language well.
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 10:07 AM
An american in Barcelona
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Not long ago I was in a souvenir shop in "El Pueblo Espanol" in barcelona when a French lady approched the cashier and spoke in french, the lady told her that she speak very little french, that she can speak english and spanish but the lady kept speaking french, however another employee take care of the situation speaking french (very limited of course) and then the lady showed her a little doll that she liked and wanted to pay with Francs, the lady explained that she only take dollars and pesetas and the lady insisted but the employee refused because she would have to pay comission for the exchange. (In Spain dollars are mostly changed without fee).

The pictured I've got is that they think they rule the world, but Napoleon is gone. But it always wrong to generalize, it's like if I say that all Swiss knows to make watches.

However it was a lesson to me.

Ame Zing.
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 10:29 AM
Steve Mueller
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Clinton is no longer president. Bush speaks Spanish as a second language.
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 10:46 AM
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Ok ! I get it...some of you need a french-bashing thread to release the steam...I give up!
Old Mar 1st, 2001, 11:25 AM
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The fact that Swiss spend a lot of money in France might be due to the fact that they (myself included) love to eat good food. I'm constantly looking for small restaurants with good food and little tourists. Secondly, a lot of Swiss do their shopping in France. Third, we do import a lot from France.
About the languages: Only younger people do speak several languages. People older that let's say 70 or so or with only basic school education would speak only one language, that means for the German part Swiss German which is completely different from real German. So it's a hell of work to really feel comfortable with another language and we definitely need as well longer stays in UK, USA to reach a certain degree. For myself, I guess my English is not too bad, but some of the posts in this forum, especially in the US one, I do simply not understand completely. I always say: When stand at a bar be it Paris, London, NYC or Florence and you understand the local people joking around, then you are really fluent. But oh boy, what a long way to go!

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