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Tuesday, February 4, 2014







European Union prepares to adopt 24th official language as costs mount, calls for English rise


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Interpreters of various languages translate a presentation at the 
European Commission headquarters in Brussels. 
(Photo: courtesy of the European Commission.)
The Treaty of Rome in 1957 founded what is now the European Union, and was supposed to be the beginning of the end of nationalism in Europe.

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But over a half-century later, walking through any of the EU buildings in Brussels, it feels like nationalism never went away.
Officially, deputies and delegates will only speak in their national languages, as a matter of principle. Attending them is a small army of translators and interpreters who assure their message is translated into the languages of the rest of the union — at a current cost of $1.4 billion per year.
The big irony, though, is that once they are away from the podium or the microphone, and they are hanging out with other European bureaucrats by the water cooler, they comfortably switch into English, the de facto lingua franca of the union.
You might wonder then, when most, if not all, EU bureaucrats master English, what’s the point in maintaining 23 official languages, especially at such expense? Why not just use a single language and, what’s more, why not use the language all EU bureaucrats master — English?
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