Out of English, German and French, English should become the official language of Europe. Especially after Brexit.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a language that is not the language of any one European country – and yet many Europeans were speaking it already? Wouldn’t that be the perfect language for the EU? It wouldn’t irk nationalists because the others didn’t get their language to rule either – yet, it would be extremely practical as hundreds of millions are already proficient. And it is easy to learn.
As of Brexit, we have one such miracle language, and it is English.
It is obvious to absolutely everyone on the planet – the only thing getting in the way is national pride that always gets in the way of people’s actual interests. There’s nothing like nationalism to squander real resources in exchange for imaginary gains, and this time it is no different.
After Brexit, English should become the language of communication in Brussels for a number of (perfectly obvious) reasons:
1. It is neither French nor German
None of the two alpha egos in this cock-fight, the French and the Germans, would get what they want. And that is something they could agree on. It is not the language of one of the two major powers in the EU – so the delicate symbolic balance is preserved.
Two smaller members, Ireland and Malta will be happy – but let them. It would also not fuck things up even further in the bureaucracy, because English is already used.
The important thing for the EU should be the EU – and its strength and ability to project power. Especially soft power.
2. The EU’s soft power needs English
No one will read your spin on current events in German or French, especially not in paywalled and inward-looking national papers. Forget Google translate – whoever puts out their version of events freely available and in English gets to spin the news worldwide.
Just look at the the vaccine spat. Brexiteers dominated the moral high ground as if they had never done anything dumb and protectionist. I haven’t seen much defense of the EU.
3. It is the language of transatlantic relations
And the transatlantic alliance is the only thing that stands between civilization and a relapse into autocracy.
The transatlantic alliance may not be in the best shape as it had been softened by its own stupidity – likely aided by its enemies in guerilla warfare during the unacknowledged, information cold war. But if you need a reminder that we are still allies, that we are still ‘us’, just look at the enemies of the free world. That is ‘them’. And they want to play with us even if we wish to play without them.
4. Piggyback on US efforts to make English the lingua franca
Trying to force your language down the throats people is arguably a colonialist thing. Can we agree or shall I repeat it in Russian – the language I had to learn in my childhood?
However, the US managed to make English the de facto lingua franca of the 20th century. Don’t squander it by trying to teach conjugation tables for modal verbs to the world.
5. English is a ridiculously simple language
It is no accident that English have spelling contests rather than grammar competitions. They only have ‘s’ for plural and third person, and they need to learn where to put the apostrophe – but that’s it. It is remarkable that they can even get those two rules wrong.
Besides, if you love your language that much, you would be upset by how non-native speakers butcher it. An influx of non-native speakers means that your language will get simplified, that you would need to develop a dumbed-down version of it, and there would be endless whining about linguistic impurity. Language chauvinists should spare themselves the aggravation and just not force others to learn their beloved mother tongues to maintain its high standards. If they can.
Go establish as many Goethe and French Institutes in the world as you wish. Individual languages are valuable and the diversity of thinking they create is a gift.
But this is about communicating with each other and to the world. To that, a different need applies. For that we need a simple, universal tongue – preferably one that is already widely spoken. Not by absolute number of people, because that might be just one populous country, but widely spoken globally.
Don’t waste even more EU taxpayer money on maintaining a language bonanza that is the ridicule of the world. In the original story of Babel, the creation of multiple languages was meant as a punishment. It was a tool to divide and thus to stupefy the people who got too close to the center of power. Is this what we are doing?
Being divided by borders and languages was also the reason the tragedies of the 20th century happened in Europe – apart from the unchecked personal ambitions of dumbass political leaders who squandered lives, wealth and people’s futures to grandstand and play war for imaginary, symbolic gains – they called it national pride. Stop bringing back that attitude.