CMV: The EU should erect a language academy stipulating rules for European English

Sat Jun 09 2018 15:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)


Helder De Schutter

KU Leuven

Professor of Social and Political Philosophy

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CMV: The EU should erect a language academy stipulating rules for European English

- Non-native speakers need to find ways to cope with the fact that English is here to stay, for at least the near future. But if English travels beyond its native countries, becoming the global lingua franca, it should also become the property of mankind: cosmopolitan ownership for English is to be the norm.
- One good way to realize this is to set out non-native standards for English. Alongside accepted versions of Englishes (from American to Indian English), we should also have lingua franca Englishes such as German English or Spanish English. Language academies could work out such non-native standards.
- On top of these, the EU should erect its own EU language academy for European English. This language academy should standardize EU terms and phrases, and it should be the international institution that harmonizes the various European Englishes.
- Such non-native tweaking of English fills English with cultural content from other languages, preserving non-native life-worlds. It also restores linguistic dignity, since it allows for the non-native speakers to claim ownership over English. English is then no longer the property of only a minority among its speakers: the native speakers.

Background Information

  • In 19 out of 25 EU member states (excluding the United Kingdom and Ireland) English is the most commonly spoken foreign language . Around 38 percent of EU citizens claim to have sufficient English language skills

    • Moreover, English is the leading second language in European schools and classrooms

  • With a definite Brexit approaching, it has been assumed that the English spoken on the European continent – in the absence of native British English speakers – might evolve into its own dialect (European English)

    • However, official EU communication of the recent past proves that the use of the English language in EU institutions will not be downgraded after Brexit

      • On the contrary, in the small print of the European commission’s proposed budget for 2021-27 it is stated that “the withdrawal of the United Kingdom will result in a limited reorientation of some functions within the administration, but the scope of activities will not change […] Translation and interpretation services in the English language will also remain unaffected.” 

      • “The possibility that English will be abolished as an official language is virtually non-existent”  — Press Service, European Parliament

    • There is, however, no official indication for an engagement in fostering the use of “European English” by the EU so far 

Read more

Working languages of the European Parliament


Brexit could create a new ‘language’ – Euro-English


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