Two takes (via wood s lot):

In The Joys of Euro-lish, British MP Paul Flynn expresses his dismay over the “new language evolving in European forums” where a lowest-common-denominator English is the coin of discourse:

The prospect is bleak but inevitable. Eurolish is incurably regressive. Europeans will speak to Europeans in a… turgid verbiage that dulls the brains and enfeebles inspiration. Stripped of invective and passion, no poetry will ever be written in Eurolish. On the other hand it’s unlikely that anyone will ever declare war in it.

In response, netlexblogger has a more upbeat attitude in The fun of Eurolish as a second language:

The imperious necessity in which we find ourselves of mastering a common language at the age of globalisation is so obvious that the culture making it possible is often disregarded, which is certainly regrettable, but inevitable. The reason is that the British language fails to convey our national vernacular experience. Idiomatic expressions that make perfect sense to people who grew up speaking English can be bewildering to someone who grew up speaking another language.

It is likely that Euro-English will evolve in the way described by Paul Flynn, from academic english to a common “lingua anglica“. But once the English language has fallen from the etheral atmosphere of immemorial purity into flattened pidgin expurged from the affects which could possibly mislead the translator, newcomers to English could well “creolize” Euro-English. They would filter their own foreigness through language-independent skills, establishing new lines of communication with other cultural groups.

As words, expressions and gestures that mean one thing in a given culture may mean something else in another culture, they would forge their own language codes and rules of behaviour. Eurolish will contribute to give birth to a new sociabilty, because just as institutions, language can give speakers a sense of belonging to the group.


  1. muHaghmoH Europanto

  2. qatlho’!

  3. Would that any of the foristas could write poetry in their own languages, let alone English.

  4. The English of India already seems to have some traits of its own, and I’ve read English-language trash fiction from Nigeria with its own idiom. When I was in Taiwan I saw a T-shirt once with a charming, garbled little poem in English about the love between Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It was certainly something that would never have been written by a native speaker.
    I’d also expect to see “idiom-books” of English for non-native speakers so they are able to “get” native English and even use the idioms themselves. So that little things native speakers throw in for a casual effect will become pedantic affectations. (Something like what happened when T.S. Eliot and Pound went all erudite — what had been familiar, meaningful references in Spenser or Milton became coded statements which college students were forced to work out with the help of a dictionary.

  5. One of my translation clients is a market research firm that caters to firms all over Europe. They pubish their lengthy and unsensational reports in English and French.
    No-one in the office speaks more than enough English to get them through a short e-mail, so their method for judging the translations is whether it includes words they don’t know.
    Instead of looking them up, they prefer to call me and say that, as far as they’re concerned, this or that word does not exist and, in future, could I please keep in mind that those who will be reading my English translations do not speak English.

  6. It is in some ways a shame that the Roman and Soviet empires conducted their administrative business exclusively by means of mime and telepathy respectively, so that we have no historical precedent for the current situation of the Engleesh.

  7. I’m told on good authority that in one tense EU discussion the French delegate said that people needed to adopt the hard-headed pragmatism of the country people from his own region. In short, he concluded, “What we need to bring into this discussion now is Norman wisdom”.
    [Perhaps I need to explain that Norman Wisdom is a diminuitive British comedian who made black and white films 40 or 50 years ago – sort of kills the joke, though]

  8. Plegmund, after reading Tony Hawks’s One Hit Wonderland, I reckon Norman Wisdom would be up for it.

  9. Gail – it could be worse. My new client has all documents written in English, but not by English speaking employees. We then translate these documents back into the language the firm actually uses internally, along with a dozen others that no one there understands.
    One thing that anglophones who are opposed to mutlingual international institutions generally fail to get is that once other people use English regularly, it becomes their language, and they can use it any way that they like. It’s not the EU that is the cause of turgid verbiage – its thousands of firms all over the world who produce use the least expressive form of English they can find because it makes it easier to translate and more accessible to non-native speakers.

  10. English looks set to become a de facto world language — indeed, I suppose
    it is that already. It’s “interesting” to think that in x hundred years,
    after the break-up of the Empire, a new set of languages will be evolving
    in the former imperial territories, as the Romance languages did out
    of Latin. A pity none here will be around to observe; it will no doubt
    be fascinating.

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