02 July 2007

English in Europe

It has always struck me as a little odd that just as much of the world seems to be adopting English for certain purposes, Americans are getting worried about the status of English in the United States. Here's the situation in Europe, according to Tony Judt in Postwar:

To one side stood a sophisticated elite of Europeans: men and women, typically young, widely traveled and well-educated, who might have studied in two or even three different universities across the continent. Their qualifications and professions allowed them to find work anywhere across the European Union: from Copenhagen to Dublin, from Barcelona to Frankfurt. High incomes, low airfares, open frontiers and an integrated rail network ... favoured easy and frequent mobility. For the purposes of consumption, leisure and entertainment as well as employment this new class of Europeans traveled with confident ease across their continent --communicating, like medieval clercs wandering between Bologna, Salamanca and Oxford, in a cosmopolitan lingua franca: then Latin, now English.

Sounds very much like the world our friend Joey Sobrino travels in when he is in Europe.


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At 04 July, 2007 14:40, Blogger Joey said...

I saw two Norwegians speaking English to each other. Granted one of them was originally from Turkey but the language barrier was substantial enough to make English an easier alternative.

The low airfare revolution is something a lot of people are not aware of. I always thought flying within Europe was too expensive to be considered but now that is no longer the case.

I still prefer rail for short distances though :)


At 04 July, 2007 14:53, Blogger Clemens said...

Yes - it's easier to write and read on a train. French trains are marvelous.

The first time in France I saw two Asian women, both working at a French Chinese restaurant, carrying on a conversation in English.

I think scenes like that finally convinced the French that English is no longer THE Anglo-Saxon language, so they can learn it to talk to the rest of the world.

At 04 July, 2007 15:18, Blogger Joey said...

Agreed, TGV rocks. I think DB is quite nice as well.



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