The comments in a recent article went a little off topic. We were talking about translating certain modern words, then the discussion turned towards the language abilities of the general public and the economic value of a harmonized language landscape.
Are we to decadent and assertive to accept that our native language isn’t necessarily the most important in the world?
The by far most important language in todays world is English, and I’m sure most people coming from whatever country do understand that. However, accepting that English is the most important language, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs to learn English.
On the other hand, there are certain groups here, who really should. Last week there was an article in our local newspaper, where the local tourism organization lamented on the low number of international visitors. The reality is, you can’t buy a train ticket at a German train station in a small town using English. You can’t order a meal using English in a restaurant. I have witnessed a lot of incredible situations here, a city of about 20,000 inhabitants, where tourism is considered a major part of the local industry.
If I have to write laws [...] in 20 different languages
My mother tongue is German, but I don’t understand German legal speak. I can’t see changing the court language from German to English would benefit me in any way, despite having a solid grasp of the English language.
… costs …
During the last 10 years, in Germany, 50% of all wage earners got their wage reduced, when adjusted for inflation. That is despite an economic growth. During the last 10 years we have seen so many increases of productivity, increased GDP, yet 50% of all workers have to accept wage reductions. I have a very hard time understanding this. Why should those people support the companies to save costs by learning a common European language. Why should these people do that, when the end result will be a reduction in wages. The problem is simple: If we all speak the same language, not only your company will benefit, all companies will benefit equally. As soon as one company decides to put that saved money into marketing, the others will follow to stay competitive, the workers would gain nothing. You can’t ask the common people to do something, when they have nothing to gain. In fact, they would be stupid if they did learn one common language, just to fill the manager’s pockets. Pay them to learn and they will learn. Or did I miss something?
Looking at the topic from a non-commercial perspective…
Looking at the topic from a non-commercial perspective there are reasons to keep different languages and there are reasons to switch to one single language. Everyone has reasons, and everyone will prefer different points of view. Anyone is free to speak English or Chinese in public or at home or with friends. I don’t see a need for any discussion of what is the best way. The decision is up to the people and they can make a democratic decision at any time. When enough people in Germany speak English in everyday situations, then English will become an official language.
If we harmonized Europe with some kind of putong-english or putong-esperanto, this continent would become culturally and economically weaker, rather than stronger.