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Do you speak Euro-English?

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26.08.2021

Berlin - Earlier this month, France’s EU affairs minister Clément Beaune said that, now that the Brexit negotiations were over, Europeans should stop using “broken English” when communicating with one another. Speaking to journalists in French, he said: “Let’s get used to speaking our languages again!” But English has long been the main working language of the EU – and that isn’t going to change any time soon. The linguist and Professor of English Marko Modiano believes English – specifically, a new type of European English – will only grow stronger in the post-Brexit era, as he outlined in his 2017 paper English in a post‐Brexit European Union. Modiano talked to us from his home in Stockholm.

You believe Brexit will actually strengthen the role of English within the EU. That sounds paradoxical.

The EU produces a tremendous amount of written material. People in agencies all over Europe are writing back and forth to each other in English. Studies have made clear that most of the people in the EU who don't have English as their native tongue want to use English when they're working within the EU. The French tried to push French after Brexit was announced. That was met with a crushing defeat.

So Europeans are expressing they want to use English, even though the only native speakers of English are now in Ireland and Malta. And it’s not “British English?”

Right. A little more than one per cent of the population. There's no one left to look down their nose at someone if they use English in a way that they feel is incorrect. The idea that an Irishman or Irishwoman working in the EU would feel compelled to defend British English is absurd because they themselves have lived under the tyranny of this linguistic chauvinism. If Scotland joined the EU, the Scots won't jump up in the air and say, okay, now we want everyone to speak British English. Ireland wants Irish as an official language in the EU. Malta has chosen Maltese.

Professor Marko Modiano teaches at Gävle University, Sweden, where he conducts research on the global spread of English, European English, standards for the teaching of English, the relationship between language learning and identity, and pedagogical approaches to teaching in multicultural classrooms.The main focus of his research is the emergence of English as an International Language. His latest book is titledTeaching English in a European and Global Perspective. Modiano also writes fiction, most recently his short story The Condemned Man.

In your paper, you say there has been a decline in the focus on the structure of the language and an increase in the attention given to communicative competence. You say that English teachers are more relaxed about the kind of English that's being learnt.

Not very long ago, people felt they had to teach consistent, proper British English. That purist native speaker-ism was the order of the day well into the 1980s. A lot of people teaching English feel that they have some kind of commitment to excellence in language, teaching people an........

© Berliner Zeitung


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