Gareth Harding is the managing director of Clear Europe and the head of the Missouri School of Journalism’s Brussels Programme. In his post entitled “EU: 28 countries, one common language,” he argues that French has fallen from its former level of importance in European governmental communication and that today’s European Union would save billions by simply agreeing to use English alone. The catalyst for this assertion is an article by Libération journalist Jean Quatremer, which Harding describes in this way:
Under a finger-wagging picture of Uncle Sam demanding “I Want You To Speak English,” Quatremer’s latest blog post accuses Germany, the EU institutions, English-speaking countries and even French officials of committing “linguistic cleansing” by allowing the language of Moliere to be crushed by that of Shakespeare. Railing against the arrogance of English native speakers, he likens being governed in a language you don’t understand to colonial rule.
You can almost picture members of the Académie Française choking on their croissants reading the article. The problem is that wallowing in nostalgia for a French-dominated Europe that existed 25 years ago is about as useful as pretending the fall of the Berlin Wall didn’t take place.
This is not the first time that Quatremer has drawn attention by protesting the growing influence of English in the EU. His article calling for a boycott of an English-language EU press conference in Ireland in 2013 — in which he called on Irish solidarity — drew ridicule for featuring a picture of Queen Elizabeth and the British flag.
Find Quatremer’s article in French here: Le monolinguisme anglophone, une mauvaise action contre l’Europe.
Find Harding’s counterargument in English here: EU: 28 countries, one common language.
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