THE ERISTIC GENITIVE OF EURO.

I have previously reported on a contretemps over whether the plural of euro should have an s; now comes a brouhaha over inflected forms. According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the News-Telegraph:

Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Malta triggered the rare linguistic showdown by refusing to accept the established usage in translations of the European constitution, calling it inelegant, inaccurate, or even gibberish in their languages.
They have all agreed to use the harmonised “euro” form on future notes and coins when they join the monetary union, but that was not good enough for Brussels.
All official EU texts must be spelt the same way even if it makes no sense in the Baltic languages.

The biggest headache is for the 3.5 million people of Lithuania, who would normally write euras, eurue, eura, euru, eure, eurai, eurams, eurus, eurais and eurose, depending on the word’s function in a sentence. The genitive in particular has caused tempers to fray.
In a letter to the Dutch EU presidency, the Lithuanian government insisted: “The non-inflective form of the term euro is unacceptable to the Lithuanian language.”
The Dutch offered a compromise yesterday that would insist on the “euro” spelling for all official EU texts such as the constitution, but let states vary usage in national documents provided the first three letters are “eur”. This is not much help to Latvia, where the word begins with “eir”.

That story is dated Oct. 13; I have not seen a resolution to this pressing issue, and I await the outcome with bated breath.
(Thanks for the link, Paul!)

Comments

  1. Welsh has a similar problem to Latvian– the name begins with “ewr”.

  2. They’ll get over it.

  3. Reg Cæsar says:

    They should drop the plural and use the Eurogenitive.
    Add this to the panoply of pronunciations of “euro”. The first syllable can be “YOU” (London), “ööh” (Paris), “OY” (Cologne), “AY-oo” (Rome or Lisbon), “EFF” (Athens), and no doubt readers can come up with others. How are you supposed to know how it’s said in any particular country?

  4. How are you supposed to know how it’s said in any particular country?

    By learning the language? You’ll have to do that anyway if you want to understand what’s being said.

  5. We love European bureaucracy. The bureaucrats find such worthy causes to spend time and money on.

  6. Reg Cæsar says:

    I congratulate Bertilo for the nobly particularist sentiment expressed. Apply it to currency, though, and the Euro is finished.

  7. Why Reg? Why does the success of a currency depend on everyone pronouncing its name in exactly the same way?
    The reason all this trouble has arisen is that quite understandably the EU want a standard spelling (except in Greek which is a necessary exception due to its alphabet) so that the notes need only bear the word “EURO” and not a whole string of different versions. By some dubious logic they decided that for this to work they needed to mandate that the plural must always be “euro” in every language, which has caused confusion and some controversy in Ireland (and Britain, where the euro is discussed extensively but to a lesser extent because we are still not a part of it). The problems get much worse when a complicated system of inflection is applied, as in Lithuanian. All the governments are agreed that it’s fine to just have “EURO” written on the notes as long as they aren’t compelled to avoid inflecting the word in official documents.
    None of this has anything much to do with pronunciation, as everyone except pedants is likely, eventually, to make the word conform to their language, in colloquial usage at least.

  8. I wonder why they don’t just use just the Euro symbol, €, and let everyone read it in his or her own way.

  9. John Baptist says:

    Shouldn’t the spelling of the word Euro be analogous with the local spelling of the word Europe? It annoys me that in the Czech Republic, it’s the Euro (eura, eur, eurum, eury) but Evropa. Plus Evro is must easier for the locals to pronounce.

  10. Reg Cæsar says:

    Maybe I’m just in an unusual position, working in the international section of a U.S. airport. Many passengers want to know if we take euro(s)– we do– and if their English is poor they use the single word: “Euro??” So our low-level workers, who come from places like Somalia and the Philippines, have to deal with a dozen pronunciations of this word. (Including the non-EU Russian, which is “evro”.) And they all assume everyone says it the way they say it. The problem isn’t when you visit them; it’s when they visit you.
    The Middle Ages have a bad reputation, but they had this probelm solved. Everything international was in Latin.

  11. Perhaps it should be noted, once and yet and all bloody over again, that no official body within the EU has or is entitled to an opinion on how the word “euro” can or should be spelled in any language in any context other than EU legislation, by which are explicitly excluded even working (but non-legislative) documents of the EU itself.
    OK?
    Now, for updates to the story, we have Google news, after all, which leads to coverage in, eg, the EU observer

    According to a compromise deal offered by the Dutch presidency, the word euro would remain unaltered on all translations of EU documents and on banknotes and coins, but in national documents the governments can vary the usage, provided that first three letters remain “eur”.
    The compromise deal was acceptable for four of the countries. The Latvian officials, however, have asked for extra time to consult with Riga, according to PA.
    The issue has to be solved before the signing of the European Constitution, taking place on the 29 October.

    Pronunciation, meanwhile, is and could only ever be a matter for the demos in the streets to decide, and if anyone’s wondering about Swedish, it comes out “evron”, with a [v] that “Yoorp” there lacks. So is it, just!

  12. And the Scotsman has a later skinny:

    A spokesman for the Dutch presidency said that because the translated texts of the draft EU constitution had to be finalised yesterday, the presidency decided to go ahead with the compromise formula, despite the objections, he said.
    It has to be printed and sent to Rome for the ceremony,” he said. “We don’t have any signs that they will not sign because of this.”

    We’ll see on Friday…

  13. Crispix Attacks says:

    If it could just be “eura” in Lithuanian, then the plural nominative would be “euros”. Sadly, they went with an ending that isn’t a possible nominative in Lithuanian, forcing them to be forever genitive.

  14. Michael Farris says:

    It doesn’t seem to decline at all in Polish, I suspect that it’s perceived as being used adpositionally with a declined word that isn’t there (does that make sense?) or as an abbreviation (like kilo, which also doesn’t decline).

  15. Richard Hershberger says:

    I’m not personally familiar with the European bureaucracy, though I have heard stories. But it seems to this cynical American that it is a mistake to try to solve an artificial invented bureaucratic problem with a real solution. Better to solve it with an artificial invented bureaucratic solution. Since the bureaucrats object to official documents with “euro” in native forms, simply issue the documents, declare them to be “unofficial”, but also declare that any unofficial document which otherwise meets all the usual standards of officialness will have the same authority as if it were official: problem solved. If that isn’t good enough, then take the unofficial document, run a global search for the inflected forms, replace them with “euro”, print up a copy, drop it in the mail to Brussels, and go about your business. Or is Brussels on to this sort of thing?

  16. Larry Brennan says:

    Well, it’s money we’re talking about here. Just spell it the way it appears on the notes and pronounce it or decline it in everyday speech as your language demands. Nobody seems to have had this problem with Dollars, Pounds, (Swiss) Francs or Yen, which in addition to Euros are perfectly fine to have stuffed in your wallet or bank account.

  17. They’re taking the uro, as usual

  18. For god’s sake, WHAT is “eurogenitive”? :-O
    In Latvian we say and write “eira” ['ayrah] with our normal inflected plural, genitive, etc.

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