Europeans are so proud of their pig Latin Eurobabble,


proudly inclining their heads fifteen degrees to scoff at American’s lack of languages, as if this were some sort of shortcoming on America’s part. Hey, it’s not our fault that we were born speaking the de facto international language. Britain’s the same, but nobody rags on it anymore, because Britain is European and it’s cooler to put down America. Ditto Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. I’m sure that situation was different a century ago when Britain ruled, but for some reason French was still the international language then, or at least co-equal. People learn languages because they need to, not so that they can act cool. Thus, in Belgium it’s not uncommon for people to speak four languages, the two official languages of French and Netherlandic, plus the nearby German and English, all similar languages, mind you. Netherlandic and German are almost the same language, though they might not know that, and are easily learned by Scandinavians, parent to both. It’s the same with Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, any one easily learned by the other. Add English and you’ve still learned the mental equivalent of only two languages. Same with the Slavic languages, from Russia to Poland to Bulgaria, all with the same parent. Essentially three languages, Latin, Germanic, and Slavic account for most of the population of Europe, just as it did two thousand years ago, after the Celtic languages went into decline. Only French and English have mixed and mutated much beyond their origins. Whether this is cause or effect of their strong international presence is unclear, but I suspect hybrid vigor to not only be in effect for language, but to cross over into other capabilities also. So, I guess the coffee boys walking the aisles of a Eurail train can be proud of themselves as they ask “cream and sugar” in four different languages, but not much, unless they’re speaking Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, and Swahili.

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