back to article Gun-jumping French pols demand rapid end to English in EU

A brace of French politicians has demanded a rapid post-Brexit de-anglicisation of EU business, potentially leaving the English-speaking majority of Ireland scrabbling for their Gaelic phrase books. The Gallic complaints about the English language came as the Irish Language Commissioner detailed Irish Irish speakers' …

  1. Vimes

    We're still fully paid up members of the EU until article 50 is invoked. Nothing has changed until that happens, nor does it seem likely now that it will ever happen, at least in the short term. For one thing it looks like the tories need to sort out a new PM first.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sadly they actually need to sort out two new PMs, since the one who actually does the dirty work will be retiring permanently once the harsh reality of the situation makes them toxic politically.

    2. Paul Smith
      Paris Hilton

      Do you honestly believe that? You have just filed for divorce and you are still expecting conjugal rights?

      Paris icon because even she isn't that thick.

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Please forgive my ignorance as a U.S.-ian, but I thought that invoking Article 50 was the filing for divorce part and that the referendum was just the screaming "I wish I'd never married you!" part.

        1. James 139

          Heck, were doomed! A smart American...truly a sign of the apocalypse ;)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            There's a difference between regular Americans and the ones who get on American TV.

            1. Fungus Bob

              "There's a difference between regular Americans and the ones who get on American TV."

              So you're saying all the ones that get on TV are constipated? That explains a lot, actually...

            2. MrDamage

              > "There's a difference between regular Americans and the ones who get on American TV."

              Their high fibre diet allows their shit to exit from the standard orifice, and not out of their mouths?

            3. James 139

              I am fully aware of that.

              Hence the cheeky smile at the end, which I assume you misunderstood entirely.

            4. Mark 65

              There's a difference between regular Americans and the ones who get on American TV.

              Don't forget the ones you get in politics too. Truly special form of citizen that they are (in most countries) - fuck the country up and generally get paid for life.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Sorting out a new PM is going to be amusing.

      There's a wonderful story from a bloke called Blaster Bates where some guys were 'testing' dynamite in a river and a local farmer came to find out what the noise was. His dog saw a stick of dynamite fly into the river and retrieved it and returned it to the men who had thrown it in. Have you ever seen two men trying to hide behind each others backs?

      1. kmac499

        Re: Sorting out a new PM is going to be amusing.

        Blaster Bates was also renowned for cleaning out Cess Pits with dynamite. The technique being a few sticks of Nobels finest would 'elevate' the contents to a few hundred feet, (leading to interesting mainly greenish rainbows) whereupon the wind would catch it and disperse it over a wide area.

        Considering the stench coming from what's left of Westminster anyone got his phone number..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorting out a new PM is going to be amusing.

          As the New Yorker pointed out last Friday: British lose right to claim that Americans are dumber

      2. Baldy50

        Re: Sorting out a new PM is going to be amusing.

        LOL And the guy reading the Dupont and other gun powder specs noticing that shot gun powder burnt at a faster rate than rifled gun powder so loaded his revolver slugs with shot gun powder so the bullets came out faster!

        They did, just sideways taking his fingers off and pushing an ounce of shot up a smooth bore is not the same as engaging a projectile in a rifled bore. Pressure curves and all.

        We have some very intelligent idiots.

      3. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Sorting out a new PM is going to be amusing.

        Upvoted for Blaster Bates reference.

        See also:

        "The Shower of Shit Over Cheshire"

      4. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Sorting out a new PM is going to be amusing.

        "His dog saw a stick of dynamite fly into the river and retrieved it". That joke was probably invented during Nobel's lifetime and has then travelled the world like jokes do. I am fairly sure I have seen it in some cartoon too, Walt Disney perhaps.

        But in this Brexit time it brings to my mind the "fear mongering" word. What an adult word it is. Adult because I cannot remember my kids ever using it when I "warned" about not looking out for cars or walking out in the cold naked, and all such things, A rather silly word really, whenever you express anything that sounds like a warning it can be used.

        In need of something to look forward to I have been thinking of a situation where I stand by some frozen lake or river and some guy wants to walk across, and I know the ice is much too thin. I would, I think, warn him. But suppose he then started to shout - "bloody fear mongering". Would I then push him out on the ice with a grin, grabbing my phone to make a video to show what a brave father he was, to his kids, after the funeral. I really don't know, but I am fairly convinced I would not run ahead to prove my point.

        So many questions.

        Of course there is also this rather interesting use of the word fear mongering - scare tactics, as the last resort.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPgZfhnCAdI

        As for this article, a wast of ink.

        And for Brexit I will introduce this short oppinion.

        A flip of the tongue.

        (by a PM)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorting out a new PM is going to be amusing.

          Twas the end of Richar Briers in Monarch of the Glen too.

        2. glen waverley

          Re: Sorting out a new PM is going to be amusing.

          Lars "His dog saw a stick of dynamite fly into the river and retrieved it". That joke was probably invented during Nobel's lifetime and has then travelled the world like jokes do."

          See also The Loaded Dog by Australia's favorite poet and story teller Henry Lawson.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The crazy French.

    English is the only common language in many cases. Think Spanish and Greeks for example. How many pairs of Spanish and Greek people are likely to both speak any common language other than English?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      I guess these puzzlewits never fly!?

    2. Naselus

      They're also quite likely to speak French, as it happens. And German. Both are taught in schools in both countries. I suspect that German courses might be defunded in Greece's case, though.

      The French are completely batshit about languages, though. They're obsessed with the idea that French should be the language of diplomacy, and that it not being so is a stain upon the honour of the whole country. Their insane hostility to regional French dialects (Occitan, Bretton) over the past two centuries is well-documented; there's still schoolyards in Brittany where you can see signs proclaiming 'it is forbidden to spit on the ground or speak Breton'

      1. captain veg

        Pedant alert

        Breton is not a dialect of French. It's basically the same as Welsh.

        -A.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pedant alert

          And while we're being pedantic, which are the other countries "where GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. What? Me worry?

            Re: Pedant alert

            Try the back of beyond in Sweden, Finland, or Norway.. :) My family's place is in a small village in southern Sweden. Google Maps shows it in a satellite photo, but you can't enter an address to find it and it doesn't even list the road. TomTom sort of gets somewhat close, Garmin has no clue. HERE surprisingly has the road named and will correctly navigate to the turn off. Certainly areas of Bayern and the Alps are just as poorly covered by the digerati. I guess areas in Poland, France and Spain, etc. too..?

          3. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Pedant alert

            Rural Portugal. We run holiday rentals and have a lot of guests who _almost_ find us because they rely on their GPS rather than the PDF with directions we send them.

          4. Jeffrey Nonken

            Re: Pedant alert

            Wait. Pedants? This is the reader forum of an IT rag. How many people here are NOT pedants? Show of hands, please. Yes, both of you. Thank you.

        2. Naselus

          Re: Pedant alert

          If you wish to be technical about it, then perhaps a better terminology would be 'regional French languages' then. IIRC, Occitan is also not actually a dialect of French but a separate Romance langauge. The point was more to highlight the French government's obsession with the promotion of French and the destruction of rival languages.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pedant alert

          Actually, I think it's closer to Cornish than Welsh, but all three are P-Celtic as opposed to Gaelic which is Q-Celtic.

          1. Mage Silver badge

            Re: Pedant alert

            Hence mind your Ps and Qs when travelling.

            Q is older

            Mac (son, sounds like Maq) became Map (Wales), which became ap

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pedant alert

            Just wondering if there is a language that is NP-Celtic.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Pedant alert

              >Just wondering if there is a language that is NP-Celtic.

              And is it hard ?

            2. ChrisElvidge

              Re: Pedant alert

              Where does Glasgow Celtic come?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pedant alert

          "Breton is not a dialect of French. It's basically the same as Welsh."

          And Occitan is more of a Romance language in its own light. As the (only well known bit?) goes

          "tan m'abellis vostre cortes deman,/qu’ieu no me puesc ni voill a vos cobrire./Ieu sui Arnaut, que plor e vau cantan;/consiros vei la passada folor,/e vei jausen lo joi qu'esper, denan./Ara vos prec, per aquella valor/que vos guida al som de l'escalina,/sovenha vos a temps de ma dolor!”./Poi s'ascose nel foco che li affina"

          (I refreshed my memory on this from Italian Wikipedia.)

          It can easily be seen to look as much like Italian and Spanish as French. We call High German, Low German and English separate languages - so is Occitan.

        5. Wommit

          Re: Pedant alert

          And if it's spoken in France, it's also a French dialect.

          As is Alsatian, the dialect spoken in and around the Alsace region and Catalan, spoken on both sides of the French / Spanish southern most border.

          And all of these piss the Parisians off completely.

          1. captain veg

            Re: Pedant alert

            > And if it's spoken in France, it's also a French dialect.

            For a given value of "French".

            To take the example of Alsation, it is a dialect of France, but not of the French language (it's a variety of German). Breton is Gaelic, Occitan is a family of Romance dialects including Provençal, part of a linguistic continuum that runs from Italy through France and into Spain. French Catalan is quite markedly different in sound from that spoken in Spain, but a speaker of any Romance language could have a stab at understanding the standard written form. Basque is something else entirely.

            -A.

        6. onemark Bronze badge

          Re: Pedant alert

          Pedantry on:

          Breton is "descended" from Cornish, not Welsh (although, as a Celtic language, not unrelated): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breton_language

          Pedantry off.

      2. T_o_u_f_ma_n
        IT Angle

        France has a peculiar approach to integration and the French language is most definitely seen as a vehicle and a proof that one wishes to become French.

        The fact that the locals insist on having the language imposed on the rest of the world is however quite retarded. Many countries in Europe actually encourage learning other languages from a young age as the Dutch, Danes, Swedes, etc... could attest and this is probably the most open minded approach in a globalized world. Sadly other countries still struggle with even bilingualism: definitely France, Spain, Italy... and the UK.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @T_o_u_f_ma_n

          Sadly other countries still struggle with even bilingualism: definitely France, Spain, Italy... and the UK.

          Add the USA to that list.. although some consider "black", "southern drawl or Texan", and "New Englander" to be languages here, they're just dialects.

        2. Mephistro
          Joke

          @ T_o_u_f_ma_n

          "Sadly other countries still struggle with even bilingualism"

          In Spain nowadays children are taught English since the nursery, and some time around age 12 they have to choose a second foreign language, usually French. Sadly, these programs begun just a few years ago and the results will take decades to become noticeable, but even so, it's a good start.

          And I'd be really surprised if the countries you listed weren't doing the same thing, with the possible exception of France! ;-)

          A question: What's the French word for 'chauvinism'?

      3. Paul Smith

        Good job the English never behaved like that... Oh wait.

      4. Hans 1

        > 'it is forbidden to spit on the ground or speak Breton'

        No, that is no longer the case, has not been for the last 30 years, heck, they are trying to teach regional languages in schools across France, without great success, but that is another matter... go to Toulouse, in the metro the stations are announced in French and the local dialect, for example... go to Jersey, who speaks patois in Jersey ? Right!

      5. Stork Silver badge

        As observed in our tourism rental, even most French (at least the subset that venture outside France) speak and are happy to speak English. I think the obsession of speaking French only is a mainly Parisian/elite thing.

        Portuguese under 60 mostly speak English as first foreign language, same for Germans, Scandinavians and Dutch. Most Spanish under 40-odd too. English is not going away from EU even if the English are.

    3. T_o_u_f_ma_n

      There is nothing like a couple of batsh*t crazy nationalists stirring up some ol' reliable xenophobia for the entire population of the country they come from to get tagged with the same label.

      As if people would call British people racists because of a single refere...oh wait

      1. Naselus

        "There is nothing like a couple of batsh*t crazy nationalists stirring up some ol' reliable xenophobia for the entire population of the country they come from to get tagged with the same label."

        Or people discussing verifiable historical facts about the post-revolutionary French government's stated policy of using the standardization of their language as a tool of domination to produce a unified French identity, to the point that they turned it into the first state-controlled language in the world. This is pretty well-recorded in the early 19th century, and the motives are explicitly laid out in this manner.

        You can discuss the crimes of various states throughout history without being a nationalist or a xenophobe, and despite being a Brit (as embarrassing as that admission is at the moment) I'm entirely happy to discuss the British Empire's record of genocide, wrongful imprisonment, economic destruction and downright idiocy too. But the British didn't care as much about language as the French did, and they still don't (aside, obviously from the furious anger we all feel during Microsoft installs when it offers US English first).

        In fact, the British were quite happy for local groups to be unable to communicate with each other, in keeping with the 'divide and rule' philosophy of the Empire. The French were hell-bent on attempting to assimilate their colonial possessions (hence why Algeria ended up in a department in it's own right, where there was never any talk of turning Mysore into a British county), which ironically generally mean they were a lot nicer in their colonialism.

        Where the British built plantations, the French built schools. But their price for that was the wholesale assimilation of local cultures. Where the British tended to just subjugate local world-views, or pervert them to their advantage (like they did with the hardening-up of the Indian caste system, which was largely in decline prior to colonization), the French tried to replace them outright.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Today - little

      150 years ago - the opposite.

      150+ years ago any Spanish who were actually willing to talk to a Greek and vice versa was going to use French.

      Quite a few French would actually love to have that back to the great displeasure of the rest of Europe which would probably prefer Spanish to become the third official language for economic reasons.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Today - little

        Quite a few French would actually love to have that back to the great displeasure of the rest of Europe which would probably prefer Spanish to become the third official language for economic reasons.

        I assume you mean because of the growth potential in South America because the growth potential in Spain is... limited...

        Anyway, if it's German then we will know the European project is completed...

        http://www.thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/258994,New-EU-superstate-plan%E2%80%99-by-France-Germany-report

    5. tskears

      Interesting observation...

      I'm presently at a company not far from the European Parliament where half the people speak French as their mother tongue and half the people speak Flemish as their mother tongue.

      Everyone speaks English. Meetings are in English, water-cooler conversations are in English.They even talk to me in English, which is a shame because I'd like to practice my Quebecois...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting observation...

        They even talk to me in English, which is a shame because I'd like to practice my Quebecois...

        Years ago in our fairly international French office we had a Quebecois come for a job interview. Even the French natives interviewed him in English because it was easier than trying to understand his French, much to his irritation.

        1. captain veg

          Re: Interesting observation...

          Quebecois films are subtitled in France.

          -A.

        2. Bloakey1

          Re: Interesting observation...

          "Years ago in our fairly international French office we had a Quebecois come for a job interview. Even the French natives interviewed him in English because it was easier than trying to understand his French, much to his irritation."

          I love talking French to Canadians and people from Louisiana. It tends to be old French and has a very strange twang to it. It reminds me of my Irish father who spoke old English and when he went outside to the garden he said he was "going abroad". My how we laughed.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting observation...

        > Everyone speaks English. Meetings are in English, water-cooler conversations are in English.

        I've certainly had occasions while working in both Sweden and Germany that I've come across groups of locals in the office chatting away in English and I've joined in only for them the look strangely at me and say "Errr were we speaking English then" and they slipped into it without even noticing.

      3. Aitor 1

        Re: Interesting observation...

        They know each others languages, but refuse to do so.

        I have seen it happen, also in Belgium and it is just ridiculous.

        1. Paul Smith
          Unhappy

          Re: Interesting observation...

          In all fairness, I really don't think most Brits know anyone else's language...

    6. Ralph B

      > English is the only common language in many cases.

      Yeah, if only there could be some possible lingua franca apart from English, eh?

      1. Fibbles

        Yeah, if only there could be some possible lingua franca apart from English, eh?

        The original Lingua Franca, from which the term derived, died out centuries ago. It was mostly based on Italian.

        So long as the USA is the world's preeminent power, English will be the world's first choice for conducting trade and diplomacy. It would be very odd for the EU not to keep their politicians and bureaucrats in practice.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "So long as the USA is the world's preeminent power, English will be the world's first choice for conducting trade and diplomacy."

          And when English ceases being the dominant trade language, the language most likely to replace it is Mandarin.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "The original Lingua Franca, from which the term derived, died out centuries ago. It was mostly based on Italian."

          Thought it was more based on Latin, which in turn is the basis for the Romance (as in based in the language of Rome, that is Latin) languages. Though the mistake is understandable as Italian is a Romance language.

      2. PNGuinn
        Facepalm

        "If only there could be some possible lingua franca apart from English"

        In reverse order of importance?

        American.

        Indlish.

        Chindlish (Fun, that one.)

        "Real" English, the kind wot the the BBC has forgotten, is slowly being eclipsed.

        Which is why I suspect the Froggies are worried. French is fast becoming irrelevant - even to the French.

        All over the world "English" has become the de facto standard for communication - Air travel, trade, computing, the internet ...

        It used to be Latin not too many years ago ...

        1. Hans 1
          Headmaster

          Re: "If only there could be some possible lingua franca apart from English"

          >It used to be Latin not too many years ago ...

          It used to be French not too many years ago ... well, until 1900.

      3. Fungus Bob

        "> English is the only common language in many cases.

        Yeah, if only there could be some possible lingua franca apart from English, eh?"

        The only fair way to solve this is to make the official language of the EU something none of it's member countrys speak. Like gangsta rap.

        1. Chemical Bob

          Or the rest of the EU could tell France to fuck off.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      English as a second language outnumbers all others by a vast margin, making it the unrivalled lingua franca of the world.

      Though French is the official language of post offices. So there's that.

    8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      We should go further and ban the use of English in Europe.

      If any French or German company wants to use English in a product aimed at America, or wants to speak English when negotiating in S.E. Asia they should need to create an UK subsidiary and do all the business in the UK

      1. Hans 1
        Coat

        Great idea, that would probably compensate somewhat the exodus you will witness in the financial sector, as the banking passporting rights to the EU will be withdrawn once Britain exits the EU ... we are talking 10's of thousands of highly paid traders, here (some of these guyz are millionaires!!!) ... shitloads of tax income for Britain. The EU will not grant banks in Britain "passporting" rights, they have already said so, besides, they would be stupid if they did grant that, since, now, Frankfurt and Paris are the financial places in the EU, and this means a great number of highly paid workers.

        You guyz are in a shit, Christ, worse than I had dreamed of ...

        https://next.ft.com/content/a3a92744-3a52-11e6-9a05-82a9b15a8ee7

        All that thanks to your spoiled brat mentality, you deserve all you get.

        1. Justthefacts

          It's a negotiation.....

          But if the investment banks go, so what? The UK bailout of the banks in 2008-2016 has cost UK taxpayers hundreds of billions, which in one hit completely overwhelms the tax earned from the City in the last hundred years. If the EU wants to underwrite the next banking crisis, good luck. I don't think Germany's pockets are deep enough. Germany already underwrites the EU to the tune of 655bn TARGET2, which will never be paid back.

          For the past several years, HSBC have been *promising* us they would go back to China, but it was all bullshit. Go on, *you* have them. Obviously, you then have to provide their banking guarantee......

          If the EU refused bank passporting rights, why would we not immediately expropriate Santander and Deutsche in the UK? Plus all the "inward investment" like utilities, which France and Germany have paid so much money for? Neither France nor Germany allow it for "strategic" reasons, so you really have little of ours to confiscate.This is a Mexican standoff with EU's Colt45 against UK main battle-tank. Gotterdammerung makes great news headlines, but you really can't pull the trigger.

          1. Paul Smith

            Re: It's a negotiation.....

            I don't think you get it. The 'banks' wont go, there are perfectly good banks already in Frankfurt and Paris. The debt wont go, the British get to keep that. The facility to do cross euro trades will be reduced to the same level as that of other non-EU banks making them less attractive for cross EU business. Only the better wbankers will go, and their business of course.

    9. Hans 1

      The whole point is that now the major member who imposed English as one of three main languages spoken across the union has decided to call it quits, piping its economy into /dev/null, BTW, there is no more a basis for English being among the top three ... compare 4.7 million English speakers, when before that you had 70 million ... makes quite a difference, Poland has 10 times that, maybe we will have Polish as a third language, why not ?

      Besides, we will soon teach German and French as main second languages across the continent ... English becoming an opt-in third language, you'll see ;-)

      I think we^H^Hthey* non-Brit EU members are really pissed off, because they made so many concessions so often for the British ... yes, it is their fault that we have become spoiled brats ... they should never have made any concessions ... lesson well learned over in Brussels, don't worry .... especially when come negotiation day with the UK gov.

      *Sadly, I am a Brit, not for long, don't worry, and am so much looking forward not to being one anymore ... I will shortly send applications to all member states (except France) to see if there is one that would accept to give me citizenship, if none will, I'll have to become French (I am legally entitled to it, have been for over 13 years), not something I really look forward to, but hey, still better than British ...

      http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/british-lose-right-to-claim-that-americans-are-dumber

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        @Hans 1

        @Hans 1 said:

        *Sadly, I am a Brit, not for long, don't worry, and am so much looking forward not to being one anymore .

        I'm not very happy with the situation at the moment, but reading your words I get the strong feeling that you are the type of person that won't be missed. Good luck, to you and especially to the people where you end up.

      2. Stork Silver badge

        Sorry, Hans 1, I do not see that happening. One of the advantages of English is that due to the simple grammar, it is relatively easy to learn enough for it to be useful*). Also, it is being taught as first foreign language in most European countries at the moment. 20 years will go before there is general agreement on anything else.

        *) my father-in-law often says that the most widely spoken language is bad English :-)

      3. Bloakey1

        <snip>

        "*Sadly, I am a Brit, not for long, don't worry, and am so much looking forward not to being one anymore ... I will shortly send applications to all member states (except France) to see if there is one that would accept to give me citizenship, if none will, I'll have to become French (I am legally entitled to it, have been for over 13 years), not something I really look forward to, but hey, still better than British .."

        <snip>

        I did it the hard way and joined the Legion Etrangere, apply the Par la Sangue Versé rule and I have my passport. Having Irish parents also helped somewhat.

        1. onemark Bronze badge

          Um, if you're a Brit and want to become French, you can still be a Brit - for the next two years or so, anyway.

    10. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Die beste Sprache

      In my experience more East Europeans speak German then English. The French may find a language forced upon them that they dislike even more than English.

      1. find users who cut cat tail

        Re: Die beste Sprache

        > In my experience more East Europeans speak German then English.

        I am East European with Germany and Austria as neighbours and, no, we don't. Historically, we were forced to learn German -- and Russian more recently -- here so indeed a number of people can speak some, especially older people. But much fewer like it and younger people generally all learn English, anything else is mostly third language.

      2. 4gats

        Re: Die beste Sprache

        It depends a lot of the generation.

        I.e. in the Central Europe the older people speak rather German, the young ones speaks almost always English as their first foreign language but German is usually their second foreign language (if any). e.g. it's the case of Poland, Hungary etc.

        It depends also of the country/region, e.g. in Romania many 45+ years old peaple speak also French, even in boondocks (it had a special place in the "traditional" Romanian education), but the young people default to English.

        The French is usually perceived as totally useless.

        BTW, I'm a FR-PL translator, this approach is a blessing for me :-)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Die beste Sprache

        You mean those places that were Germany until the end of WWII? <G>

        In my experience in East Europe, young people mostly learn English, especially because they watch a lot of movies and TV programs without dubbing, and most of them are in English.

        Then often they are often attracted by German style and products more than US/UK ones.

    11. tfewster Silver badge

      re: common language

      I was working in Germany for a couple of weeks, far away from tourist areas; Outside of work, I tried to get by in German - but as soon as anyone heard my accent they would respond in good English. Puzzled (but grateful), I asked one taxi driver how come everyone could speak English. Was there an international employer in the area? He shrugged, and replied "It's the language of the Internet. Most of the Web is in English.

      I know that still doesn't explain their good pronunciation, or why they didn't just use a translation overlay. Still puzzled, but very impressed.

      1. TheProf Silver badge

        Re: re: common language

        " Still puzzled, but very impressed."

        I asked the cashier in a Reykjavik petrol station why everyone in Iceland speaks such good English. He just tilted his head towards the portable TV on the counter next to him. If you've ever seen their native language TV you'll understand the appeal of foreign English language telly.

    12. Crazy Operations Guy
      Coat

      "The crazy French."

      Ah France, the only place where you'll find a silent 'x'

    13. Aitor 1

      Me

      I speak English, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Basque.

      And my wife speaks both english and Spanish.

      I speak daily with a greek work colleage.. in both english and french.

      Still, english is a good "universal" language, but do remember that for centuries the language used in diplomacy was french..

      1. Dagg
        Headmaster

        Re: Me

        centuries the language used in diplomacy was french..

        Only in Europe.

    14. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Think Spanish and Greeks for example.

      ... and Norway, Sweden, Finland (though Swedish is widely spoken here), Denmark, Netherlands and Germany (more the western side).

      Where else have I been that speaks English (and NOT French), oh yes, Croatia, Austria, Italy (though there will be some French here), Turkey. Israel (ok so that's another weird one).

      In other words, most of Europe speak English. The ONLY place I struggle is in France, but luckily I have a French colleague (who speaks very good English) who can cover that.

      English IS the European lingua franca. Get over it!

    15. TeeCee Gold badge
      Happy

      The one that always cracked me up was the Dutch and Germans talking. In English as, while the Dutchman is almost invariably fluent in German, he's only going to admit that to a bloody German after hell's frozen over.

      The actual headline for this article should be: "French make yet another attempt to convince world that French remains relevant as a language. World says 'Meh'..."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    J'ai nonante neuf problemes, mais le dialecte correct n'est pas sur la liste.

    1. Radbruch1929
      Thumb Up

      Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        At least language is handled more efficiently in the south part of Belgium... nonante neuf instead of quatrevingt dix-neuf, or something similar. I speak the language, don't ask me to write it :-)

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      When did they switch to "nonante"? When I learned French ninety was always "quatre-vingt-dix".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The French never changed to Nonante. The French speaking world largely did. That was my subtle poke at the sense of French being a unified language.

        1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

          Ah. Thank you. The time period in question was late 1960s - early '70s, so I figured that it was possible that the French had changed their terminology -- although, it being the French, it DID seem unlikely.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Nonante

          French

          70 soixante dix

          80 quatre vingts

          90 quatre vingts dix

          Swiss French

          70 septante

          80 octante

          90 nonante

          so far so logical...

          Belgian French

          70 septante

          80 quatre vingts

          90 nonante

      2. John R. Macdonald

        And counting

        @Mike Moyle

        'Septante', 'huitante' and 'nonante' are used in Belgium and Switzerland. The French use 'soixante-dix', 'quatre-vingt' and 'quatre-vingt-dix' (except in certain financial areas where (ac)counting errors tend to be on the expensive side when calling out numbers)

  4. Roger Greenwood

    "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

    All you have to do is ask.

    You might not get where you want to go straight away, but the chat will be entertaining.

    GPS works fine, but google doesn't yet know everything - try finding "Thovnock" on a map.

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

      I was writing some till software for use at trade shows for a company. It needed to take addresses of new customers to set them up an account with the company.

      I wrote it in what I believed was a rational and sane way, requiring a house name/number, street etc.

      This worked great in the UK. However, before the Dublin show, I got one of the Irish staff to test it.

      "It won't let me put in my address"

      I had a look, and she wasn't entering a house name or number. When I told her she needed to enter that, she told me, "I don't have a house name or number. Noone on our street does."

      "How does the postman find your house, then?" I asked.

      "Oh, he knows who lives where."

      It sounded insane to me, but apparently it's fairly common, and it's why couriers over there insist on having a telephone number. They can turn up at a street with many houses on and have to figure out which house it is, with no indication at all!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

        @ Dr. Mouse it is the same in Dominica. I went to visit someone there and they could not give me an address that I understood. All I was given was their name and the town. No house numbers or street names there. I had a great time trying to explain to a customs officer that I didn't have an address of where I was staying. In due course the name and town was what he wanted to know.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Dr Mouse Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

        ".....but apparently it's fairly common...." Same in France itself, amusingly. My parents' holiday home was in a village of about 60 houses and their postal address was their surname, village name, region, France. The local postie had to know all the surnames of all the village residents in order to deliver anything. This was all the more ironic because my father worked on a project many years ago to give every house in the UK a street number and post code, so that each had a unique address! IIRC, it was supposed to be a European standard. BTW, the village population was majority non-French ex-pats and retirees (mainly Dutch, German and English), and everyone spoke English except the locals who made a point of refusing to speak anything other than French. Plus ça change!

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Dr Mouse "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

          Makes me wonder if there was ever a situation where a letter is addressed to a certain surname in a certain town, no number, only the town in question has 32 houses ALL with the same surname?

      3. BongoJoe

        Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

        I wrote it in what I believed was a rational and sane way, requiring a house name/number, street etc.

        This worked great in the UK.

        It did? My previous address didn't have a house number nor a street name. Just the house name followed by the name of the town.

        My next address will be the same as the previous: the name of the house and the town.

        The next time you go out in the country, have a look at the cottages and houses dotted over the hills and mountains and then ask yourself what their address would be.

        The famous address of "Number 1 London" sadly wouldn't go through your code peacefully and how many people who write these applications assume that the numeric part of the address has to be an integer (I have seen addresses with fractions)? Also one can't assume that the character set of the letters used in an address is a standard one; my next house will have ŷ in the name.

        1. ChrisElvidge

          Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

          "I wrote it in what I believed was a rational and sane way, requiring a house name/number, street etc."

          Another example of a programmer thinking (s)he knows better than the person filling out the form. (cf Postcode/ZIP code.) I know my name and address - you don't.

          1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

            Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

            Fair play to the comments, I had no idea (even now) that there were so many places, even in the UK, which wouldn't fit that pattern. I've, personally, never come accross a UK address which didn't have a house identifier and street name, but I know that I don't know everything.

            Thing is, nobody else thought it was wrong either after a lot of end user testing, until it went to Ireland.

      4. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

        Don't be surprised Dr. Mouse. It used to be like that in many parts of the UK too. PP

    2. Ralph B

      Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

      > All you have to do is ask.

      "You can't get there from here."

    3. scrubber

      Re: "GPS is often of little help finding an address much outside Dublin"

      Is it true when you enter an Irish address into GPS it says, "Well, I wouldn't start from here."

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Oh bollocks

    Bande de foutus connards feraient mieux de fermer leurs gueules.

    English is not going away in the EU, it's practically the only common language all countries in the EU have. Obviously the twats in Front National are going to push that populist angle though, makes them think they're smart (anything's good for that as far as they're concerned).

    As for Mélanchon, he'd do well to go back to his initial Ministry (Minister of Vocational Education) and try learning something for a change. That fact that he is in a leftist party is highly ironic, but also greatly significant when one can see him spout the same nonsense as Front National.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You'll be surprised to learn that, in France, extreme-left and -right politicians, however loud they can be, do not, in fact, decide of the country's policy, either national or in the EU.

    Incredible, right? Very different than with you British.

    So Mélenchon and Ménard can speak through their asses as much as they want - and boy, do the media /love/ them for that - they're quite irrelevant.

  7. Chuunen Baka

    Lingua Franca

    20 years ago if you went to a conference in Europe, you'd need translators for the French delegates but rarely for any others. Now conferences are conducted entirely in English and nobody seems uncomfortable with that. Virtually every well educated person in the world speaks some English. How many Asians or South Americans can speak any French?

    1. captain veg

      Re: Lingua Franca

      Plenty of Asians speak French, Perhaps you meant South Asians?

      -A.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lingua Franca

        "Plenty of Asians speak French..."

        Pardon me for asking, but...where?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lingua Franca

          "Plenty of Asians speak French..."

          Pardon me for asking, but...where?

          Vietnam for one.

          1. Mephistro
            Coat

            Re: Lingua Franca

            "Vietnam for one"

            Hence the expression "too beaucoup".

        2. Jan 0 Silver badge

          Re: Lingua Franca

          Vous connaissez les vieillards en Indochine?

        3. John R. Macdonald

          Re: Lingua Franca

          What used to be Indochina (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam). To which you can add Pondicherry/Puducherry in India, ruled by the French until 1954.

    2. DropBear

      Re: Lingua Franca

      Fifty-odd years ago there may well have been an exclusive small club of "world languages". Today, there's only one: English. Movies on TV almost exclusively in English (especially form the 80s on, and in countries that did not overdub audio) then later the Internet made sure that no matter how many other languages might still be taught in schools, English is the one language practically everyone speaks or at least understands for some degree today. Sorry Monsieur, that ship has sailed - go back playing with your bytes octets...

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Lingua Franca

        > Today, there's only one: English.

        This is something everybody in technology/science should be very happy about. Not too long ago articles were in Russian/French/German/English/Latin.

        Tze Englisch ist wunderbar!

        1. Baldy50

          Re: Lingua Franca

          Noticed whilst working in Rüsselsheim at Opel Verk a lot of the engineering plans used English because the German word was too long to fit on the page.

      2. captain veg

        Re: Lingua Franca

        I work in the international team of a global company. Let me tell you, in Latin America, Japan, China, large parts of Africa, pretty much no one speaks English.

        -A.

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius

          Re: Lingua Franca

          @Capt. Veg.

          Even in Europe, once you are away from the touristy places, English produces blank looks. Supermarkets, ordinary bars, ordinary bus and train services, petrol stations off the main motorways,...

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Lingua Franca

          "I work in the international team of a global company. Let me tell you, in Latin America, Japan, China, large parts of Africa, pretty much no one speaks English."

          UNLESS they're ACTUALLY working internationally, as in with foreigners. For example, what do Chinese in Africa do? I doubt the Africans can expect to learn Chinese on the spot (Chinese and Japanese are tricky to learn on the quick--domestic language education there has to space it out over many years). That's when you need the lingua franca. And in most of the world, the lingua franca is English, simply because everyone has to deal with English-speakers at some point and usually most often, as the Dollar is still considered the most reliable currency in the global market.

          1. AndyS

            Re: Lingua Franca

            In large parts of Africa, the Lingua Franca is the tongue of whichever country colonised them - so English in East and Southern Africa, French in Central and West, Arabic in the North, Portugese in Mozambique, and Afrikaans (basically Toddler Dutch) in large parts of SA. English won't get you far in any of these, unless you get lucky.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Lingua Franca

              So like I said, what do the Chinese do when they get there? Take up whatever language they need?

      3. alpine

        Re: Lingua Franca

        A couple of weeks ago I was trying to buy a nice Italian T-shirt to bring back to the UK as a souvenir for a 7 year old. There were some fun toddler's ones, with sayings that looked exciting, even though I didn't understand them. But this boy takes T shirts for 9/10 year olds and by the time they get to that age, Italian kids want slogans in AngloAmerican, not their own language.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Is there no concentration camp that can take these people up??

    This is on the level of charver subhuman scum accosting brown-looking persons in the street and telling them to "go home" as happens now...

    I will chip in freshly printed EUROs for the Zyklon Bthe reeducation manuals and well-uniformed guards.

    Seriously, who cares about french?? And I'm speaking it every day, btw..

  9. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Irish language

    I thought that you only need 4 words to get by in the Irish language, namely "drink", "arse", "feck" and "girls"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Irish language

      I thought that you only need 4 words to get by in the Irish language, namely "drink", "arse", "feck" and "girls"

      That would be an ecumenical matter.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Irish language

        I think those are the only 4 ENGLISH words you need to get by in Ireland.

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        Re: Irish language

        Careful now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Irish language

      No, according to Brian O'Nolan (author of The Third Policeman, inter many alia) the only four words you need to get by in Western Ireland are eternity, downpour, whiskey and potatoes.

      As for "girls" - one definition of a true Irishman was someone who would wade through a sea of naked women to reach a pint of Guinness.

  10. Paul Smith

    Not unreasonable

    There are about 4.5 million people in the Republic of Ireland, which is 'officially' bi-lingual, ie the official languages are Irish and English (in that order). So that leaves less than 2.25 million native English speakers out of a population of over 500 million. As a good (Irish) European citizen, I am not sure that I want my tax money spent on translating every single document the already verbose EU produces into a language that is spoken by not much more then 1% of the EU population. Polish is (and will remain) an official EU language as the 40 million Poles are members in good standing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not unreasonable

      Six of the EU member states have less than 2.25 million citizens.

      1. Steve Foster
        Headmaster

        @kmiettinen

        <pedantry voice="Stephen Fry"> _fewer_ </pedantry>

  11. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    LOL!

    A German colleague once observed that the French hate us Brits because we simply don't give them the regard the French think they are due, so I suppose the best response is simply to chuckle at another example of French pettiness.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: LOL!

      I don't think that's fair.

      It's not limited to the Brits, the French hate everyone who they don't think give them enough regard.

      Top of the list are probably Parisians.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: LOL!

        Merde aux sioxante-quinzes!

        As said by just about everybody in rural France every summer as the Parisiens throw their weight around.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?

    Not to mention the countries where English is a hugely widespread second language, like The Netherlands. Most of them speak better English than my neighbour (who although being a native of these islands, doesn't seem to have language capacity far removed from Ugg the caveman).

    Some Dutch I know even dream in English they use it so much. This despite living and working in NL with their countrymen.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?

      Some Dutch I know even dream in English they use it so much. This despite living and working in NL with their countrymen.

      I heard a similar thing from a German friend. He was fluent in French and English and used to go meet his family in France for three weeks each summer (he couldn't visit them in Germany because he was trying his best not to get conscripted). He said that about a week after returning to England he'd suddenly realise he was thinking in English instead of in German.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?

      When I lived in Belgium I found myself dreaming in french, after a month or two. The annoying thing was not only did I speak better french while asleep, but I was much better at remembering specific vocabulary while dreaming - and it just isn't practical to take your bed with you to the pub...

  13. Howard Hanek
    Childcatcher

    The French ARE Jumping the Gun

    ....the French language will be soon be replaced by Arabic and more Muslims speak English as a second language than French so..........

  14. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    In the long run, my money is on Mandarin.

    1. Paul Kinsler

      In the long run, my money is on Mandarin.

      I think you may have misspelt "Marain" :-)

      1. Small Furry Animal

        Re: In the long run, my money is on Mandarin.

        "I think you may have misspelt "Marain" :-)"

        +1 for the Culture reference

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: In the long run, my money is on Mandarin.

        Satsuma?

      3. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: In the long run, my money is on Mandarin.

        Daft bet, unless someone comes up with a writing system for it that's actually practical.

  15. LDS Silver badge

    It's time to replace English with Italian in the EU...

    ... just to drive the French mad.

    After all, Italy is the third most populous country in the EU, now...

  16. Baldy50

    póg mo thóin

  17. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Whichever way you voted, it's fun to see the Eurocrats spitting the dummy. First of all, we get "Leave means leave! We want you out tomorrow." Then we had "We won't let you screen immigrants in Calais any more." Now it's "See how you like it when we all start speaking French."

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Now it's "See how you like it when we all start speaking French."

      Followed by "I fart in your general direction."

  18. Steve 114

    Funny?

    If at an EU conference you are invited to join the Dutch table, you will enjoy the very best jokes (in English). If you have fluent French, you may be able to join their table, where you will be handed a (virtual) hand of playing cards illustrating philosophical concepts to be used in debate, and be invited to take polite turns to play. Even juniors can win a hand, but should not expect to be taken seriously unless they have also been to a 'Poly'. And that's only technical conferences.

  19. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    English is the only second language for a large number of Europeans.

  20. Shane McCarrick

    Just to be a complete contrarian.......

    I speak fluent Irish- I wrote a number of letters 'as Gaeilge' today- and took two phone calls in Irish.

    I also have fluent German- and have worked there in the past- and in a previous existence gave technical support for a large multinational in French and Spanish. I'm currently learning Portuguese.

    My two children attend a Gaelscoil- where the entire curriculum is taught through Irish (with the exception of English obviously). My little guy has 4 Polish children in his class- learning everything through Irish- along with 4 French kids (there are 32 in his class- which is significantly larger than its supposed to be). My little girl has 3 Polish in her class- along with a sibling of one of the French girls from her brother's class.

    I went to school through Irish- and quite honestly am probably more at home with Irish than I am with English- however- obviously, my English can only be described as fluent.........

    I've also attended Commission and Council meetings in Brussels in the past- at which I wholly ignored the available on-the-fly translations from translators- and followed the meeting in the variety of languages displayed at the table (French, Spanish, English and a smathering of other languages- mostly Latin based- which makes them a doddle to follow........)

    Personally- I think its impossible to dismiss English from its third spot in Brussels- simply because so many people use it as a common second language- when I was in school- everyone learnt French as a second language- well, now its English. The exception is of course when meetings got abusive- and I learnt some choice curse words in Russian, Italian and Spanish (we all know how to curse in French)......

    1. 4gats

      Re: Just to be a complete contrarian.......

      Well, I'm Polish and I have some family in Ireland.

      They say they're too old (and, honestly speaking, probably too busy...) to learn the Irish but they're really proud their children learn and speak Irish and encourage it..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just to be a complete contrarian.......

      "and I learnt some choice curse words in Russian, Italian and Spanish (we all know how to curse in French)"

      With modesty and self deprecation like yours, I think you may go on to learn curse words in a number of other languages, especially if people think you're out of earshot.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Second Language

    I believe English is pretty much the universal second language spoken by Europeans - and most of the rest of the world.

    Unless Latin has made a come back?

    Just tell them English is the world's Lingua Franca and Franca isn't.

    The Hissy Fits just keep on happening....

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copyright the English Language

    And charge the dainty French wimps a royalty for every English word they use.

    Let's see how long it takes to isolate themselves into oblivion.

  23. SnertThevikingDog

    Up your's delors!

    1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge

      Back off Brussels!

  24. SnertThevikingDog

    Just askin' but do people code in french?

    1. Blue Pumpkin

      yes they do ...

      But generally you find that the code is more or less English with comments in French.

      Variables and function names usually end up as some kind of Franglais.

      Sometimes you get a fully blown 100% French set of code. However, this is still quite rare especially when compared to Spanish where often everything tends to be in Spanish.

      And finally there are local home grown things - I remember that there used to be 'LTR' - Langage Temps-Réel that was promoted by defence companies such as Thomson and Aerospatiale in much the same way as CHILL and CORAL-66 were done here.

  25. Kennedy

    What a festival of smugness. Over 17 million voters can, it appears, be written off as stupid, racist, etc etc etc. How dare they threaten our agreeable foreign travel, cheap tradesmen, excellent servants/waiters/baristas? I suppose by definition the typical Reg reader spends more time at his keyboard than engaging with the messier aspects of human existence, but at least try to show some respect for the democatic process. You know you would if the answer had come out in your favour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's probably because every interviewed Brexiter seems to be a thick, ignorant racist.

      I'm sure some aren't, but the percentage that are seems vey high.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Seems many now suddenly think it is perfectly ok to be brutally racist and ignorant or threaten violence just as general daily conversation, I guess that is because of the Brexit campaigns from the rather more unsavoury groups. A degeneration of culture, "headmaster left the building for the duration" or whatever. Seems they are pretty close to a situation where the boys in blue will have to stop ignoring and take a more physical role to enforce public order and stop actual assaults. How many smug wannabe or actual smart-alec brownshirts are going to get teargassed or Tasered? One is already in Belmarsh. And if anyone thinks it is totally unrelated to the new politically opportunistic tolerance of *actual* goosesteppers and headchoppers right next to the EU .....yeah, right, whatever! Sorry to be sombre or *alarmist* but you can't ignore a downwards spiral forever.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          ....many now suddenly think it is perfectly ok to be brutally racist and ignorant or threaten violence just as general daily conversation....

          Yes, I can't stand the Labour "Momentum" types either.

  26. karlnapf
    Facepalm

    ten years from now

    We will simply adjust our "translation matrix" (Google) and every one can talk native language, and everyone else will understand.

    Oh, and btw: who gives a cent for the opinion of a french front national moron?

  27. Oengus
    Joke

    "(We should add that Irish is a Gaelic language, but definitely not a Gallic language.)"

    We should add that Irish is a Gaelic language, French is a Garlic language... Sorry couldn't resist.

  28. Asterix the Gaul

    'legitimacy'

    So,lets get this right,if Brussels ays that 'English' no longer has any legitimacy' in Brussels,then does that not mean that it's pointless discussing the outcome of the referendum with them?

    Maybe they are either 'racist' or they cannot speak 'Queen's' English.

  29. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Trust the French to illustrate the sort of cash-by-the-shovelful waste projects that got the whole messy ball rolling in the first place.

    How about making Esperanto the official language and having done with it? No irregular verbs, no national or cultural baggage and takes about six weeks to become fluent.

    Also: most respected full immersion Esperanto school is in France.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Bah!

      How about making Esperanto the official language and having done with it? No irregular verbs, no national or cultural baggage and takes about six weeks to become fluent.

      Doesn't Esperanto have genders? If I believe that I am right then that, in my mind, rules it out as a useful language because genders for inanimate object is, quite frankly, idiotic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        "Doesn't Esperanto have genders? If I believe that I am right then that, in my mind, rules it out as a useful language"

        Esperanto just has too much cultural baggage that its founders weren't aware of. As do all invented languages. It's basically a hybrid Romance language, i.e. ultimately derived from Latin, and Spanish already exists to do that job.

        All English really needs is a gender neutral third person singular pronoun set to refer to people, and a recommended subset of the language for official use (which I think already exists in many areas.) And a bit of allowed spelling reform. Come on, guys, if the Russians could reform their spelling in the middle of a revolution, surely we could do it in the middle of the present uncertainty?

        1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          "if the Russians could reform their spelling in the middle of a revolution, surely we could do it in the middle of the present uncertainty?"

          I have worked hard(ish) to learn English spelling, and so should everyone else have to do! (That came out a bit complicated.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bah!

            "I have worked hard(ish) to learn English spelling, and so should everyone else have to do!"

            English spelling is easy. English pronunciation is difficult ( we combine a degree of phonetics with spellings that are there to remind us of the origins of a word, a bit like Irish. This certainly doesn't help dyslexics.)

            If we can't agree on how to pronounce bath and scone, how can anybody be expected to?

            1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: Bah!

              "If we can't agree on how to pronounce bath and scone, how can anybody be expected to?"

              Yes, the amount of variation in pronounciation within one nation is amazing!

              Makes it even more annoying that anyone can easily hear that my accent is not from the UK.

              It's also quite hard to know what to aim for, so I just gave up! ;-)

              If the Terminator can be Governor of a US state, I won't worry any more.

              "we combine a degree of phonetics with spellings that are there to remind us of the origins of a word"

              Yes, don't get rid of that! That helps us Nordics a lot, since in many Nordic words those quiet consonants are pronounced!

        2. Havin_it
          Go

          Re: Bah!

          I'm up for inventing a new language. How do we do it without falling into these traps of the mind, so we can flog it to all the lingo-stakeholders of the world? It would make life so much easier, and mean Google would've wasted quite a bit of cash.

          Ursprech (or Oor sprech if you're Scots). Who's up for it?

        3. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          "All English really needs is a gender neutral third person singular pronoun set to refer to people"

          Well, there's "ze," but the moment you try you get inextricably tied up with gays, and that has instinctive animosity.

          What about the inconsistent grammar? I mean, make up your mind: "mouses" or "hice"?

        4. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          Genders? Not if you are talking about impersonal nouns. You can call people "miss" or "sir" using a modification of the same root. Not really the same thing. Finding this out yourself would have been very easy, certainly less onerous than making sense of the average man page.

          I only really suggested it to see how fast people would see the shiny and start waffling about needing yet another new artificial language.

          As for cultural baggage, I think there's some confusion between that brought to the table by the language and that being touted by certain loud parties speaking it.

          The language has no baggage. I quit the local Esperanto club largely because of people who were attempting to hijack the term "samideano" to much the same effect as some of the comments here. That and the claque on the other end of the scale who were denying the local culture at all costs.

          The point of the language and the reason it was invented was to provide an auxillary way of communicating to the people of Warsaw, whose population had six distinct cultures each with it's own language. The idea was't original, but it was the best implementation of it to appear at that time and more people speak it today than any of the other alternatives, inclding Klingon (which steals liberally from Esperanto grammar).

          Amusing aside: the Encyclopedia Britannia once had an article on Esperanto in which it stated that the language would never be adopted in the East because Chinese and Japanese people couldn't pronounce some of the letters. Which would come as a surprise to the large community of Japanese Esperantists, some of whom I've met and spoken with (they didn't speak English and I don't speak Japanese)

  30. irvdel

    € 25000000000

    There is the small matter of the "Grin Report". If France is serious about a better EU language policy (better for all not just France), then time to consider Grin's "L'enseignement des langues étrangères comme politique publique" http://www.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/rapports-publics/054000678/index.shtml

  31. Domquark

    Vive la huh?

    It's hilarious that the French are getting upset with the English over English. Why? What's the point? In Latin based languages, the grammar and constructs are very strict, therefore Latins (French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese) "grow very little" (the exception to the rule being English with at least 1000 new words every year). In other words, it's very difficult for the [Latin-based] language to expand and evolve with new words. I have seen in Europe, first hand, that most (if not all) "tech talk" is done in English, as other Latins simply don't [and probably never will] have the vocabulary to describe the problem/issue/equipment etc! If you have ever heard a conversation in French/Italian/Spanish/Portuguese about IT, you will notice that it's littered with English words, for which there is no local equivalent!

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Vive la huh?

      "you will notice that it's littered with English words, for which there is no local equivalent!"

      I think that's just the "lingua Franca" effect. Once one language dominates, it's seen as not worth the effort to invent local versions of words. In Sweden, for example, "mail" means "email", and only that. Not physical mail, ever. This can lead to some interesting mix ups, btw. We used to invent new words for technical stuff in the days when information still was traveling slowly, and litterateure and manuals were translated before consumption. Languages such as Swedish and German (if I'm correctly informed) have the benefit of being able to create new words really easily by concatenation. If I make a word by concatenation, and it makes sense, it is a word. It won't be in the dictionary initially, but it can be used and spread in usage very easily. Perfect for technical terms. ("Undervattensbåteldsläckningsappartupphängningskrok" may be overdoing it a tad though)

      Sadly, in my opinion, laziness has lead to tech hacks abandoning perfectly good home grown words for English versions. Perhaps it just sounds cooler to them, or they are just lazy. Or they are afraid they will sound old fashioned. The result is that some words have no intrinsic meaning to the user, whereas it is possible to understand the origin of the word if you are a native English speaker (a transient problem, granted).

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Vive la huh?

        "Sadly, in my opinion, laziness has lead to tech hacks abandoning perfectly good home grown words for English versions. Perhaps it just sounds cooler to them, or they are just lazy. Or they are afraid they will sound old fashioned. The result is that some words have no intrinsic meaning to the user, whereas it is possible to understand the origin of the word if you are a native English speaker (a transient problem, granted)."

        The real real issue is that people don't realize languages grow organically. Nearly every proper language evolved distinctly from local languages that had a need to communicate amongst themselves. They each developed independently and continue to do so, changing as people do and doing so locally, not globally (which is why Spanish, French, and Portuguese differ some depending on which side of the Atlantic you're on). That's why we end up with localized dialects, slangs, and so on. I don't think there's much you can really do about that simply due to the limited nature of communication. Being able to communicate with anyone, anywhere is shaping things, yes, but until this outpaces our face-to-face interactions, they won't be the driving force of language.

  32. PapaD

    Institute of language (or some such)

    I seem to recall that the French have an institute that's sole purpose is to come up with French versions of new words - which is why they sometimes get really convoluted French phrases for really simple new words - they simply refuse to just adopt the word (like a lot of the world does)

    This can mostly be seen in tech related content

    As for the English language, the weirdness inherent in it is largely due to the vast number of languages brought to us during the 'lets invade Britain' period of history - Which is why we have so many French words in the language, and why sometimes we have multiple words for the same things (pork, pigs, beef, cows etc) - they did it :)

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