Psst, buddy, wanna save a buck? Stop speaking English

Dennis Baron debaron at
Mon Jul 23 21:20:33 UTC 2007

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

Psst, buddy, wanna save a buck?  Stop speaking English --

English is fast becoming the national language of Europe, but not  
everyone approves.  A German scientist wants to restore German at  
least as the language of science in Europe, and a Swiss linguist  
claims that dropping English for Esperanto could save Europe an easy  
$34 billion a year.

Five hundred years ago Europe shook off the yoke of Latin, and  
vernacular languages thrived.  But now, laments the German  
biophysicist Stefan Klein, English is the new Latin, poised to take  
over not just Europe but the world (“Dumber in English,” July 12,  
2007,  According to Klein, the goal of science is  
to improve the world and, forgetting Germany’s fatal attempt to  
improve it through eugenics, he would like to make the world a better  
place by requiring German science students to take their exams in  
German and “encouraging” German scientists to use their native  
language if they want to their grants renewed.

The Swiss linguist François Grin has an even grander scheme to get  
the European Community off the English-only bandwagon.  Grin is well  
aware that talk is not cheap, that Europe, with 23 official  
languages, spends a large chunk of its budget on expensive and  
wasteful translation.  But the expanding role of English means that  
Europe is pouring over 17 billion euros a year into British coffers  
for such things as translation services and  English lessons, and  
Grin sees no reason for the British to get rich this way  
(L'enseignement des langues étrangères comme politique publique,  


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Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

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