Americans face new threat to English: bilingual beer. How do you say 'lite' in Flemish?

Dennis Baron debaron at
Mon Jul 28 05:24:23 UTC 2008

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

Americans face new threat to English: bilingual beer. How do you say  
'lite' in Flemish?

The pending sale of Budweiser, “the king of beers,” to the Belgian  
beer conglomerate InBev, has sparked jokey headlines like the  
BaltimoreSun’s “This Bud’s pour vous,” not to mention fear among  
drinkers of le roi des bières that the new owners of Anheuser Busch  
might actually change the taste of their beloved Bud Light. ...

InBev (a company formed from the merger of a Belgian and a Brazilian  
beer peddler, adding the threat of Portuguese to the linguistic mix)  
insists that since Budweiser is already so successful, with a 48.5%  
U.S. market share, they won’t tamper with the secret Budweiser recipe  
– which prompted one late night comic to quip, “There’s a recipe?”

But that’s not doing much to ease the fears of loyal Bud drinkers, who  
apparently fear that InBev will turn Budweiser into a bilingual  
operation, like Belgium itself, more than they fear that InBev might  
actually seduce Americans into drinking beer that actually tastes like  

Belgian beers are multilingual, and American supporters of official  
English have already begun warning about the threat that this poses to  
American beer labels, which like the Declaration of Independence and  
the Constitution, must be understood in their original language,  

Budweiser is as American as apple pie, or an apple pie that you have  
to be 21 to buy, but Americans fear that soon they will be told by  
their new European masters to order Bud by the litre (that’s French  
for liter), not the six pack, and to “press 1” to order it in English.  
Or worse yet, to “press 2” or “3.” Fortunately they won’t have to  
worry about converting Bud Light calories from metric to Fahrenheit,  
since calories are already metric, though most Americans don’t  
actually know this. . . .

Read the rest on the Web of Language

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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