Editorial Opinion – argues that the EU will be a lost cause without the English to lead the way. Brexit-language is the key
In multicultural Britain it is easy to see the EU as one big Notting Hill carnival where we all live alongside one and another in mutual respect and love.
Yet in 1957 when the EU was formed by the nations defeated in WWII life was very different.
While those growing up in post war Britain were confronted with the awful pictures of Nazi concentration camps, on the other side of the Channel the popular consciousness was seared with memories very different.
From Rouen, all the way to the Romanian oilfields and back, the allied bombers filled the skies with death and destruction.
Indeed, the Germans referred to the RAF as the ‘Terrorfliegers’ after witnessing rows of bodies laid out on the roadside and stretching off into the distance.
It was believed by some that one way to ensure this never happened again would be for a future European superstate to remove all manufacturing capability from Britain.
This could be encouraged by the giving of grants to individual British firms to relocate their factories to Poland and other Eastern European countries.
However the real key to creating a cohesive empire is effective communication.
Both the Romans and Normans tried to impose their languages, upon the local English population, but with varying degrees of success.
Yes, some Latin words remain, and some French expressions still exist, yet English as a language has developed into its own dominant uniqueness.
The EU knew that in order to create a cohesive super state it needed one language for all business and government uses.
The EU chose English, and hoped the people of England, stripped of their manufacturing capability could be trained to teach English to the rest.
Brexit-language is the key
Numerous language schools have opened since 1974 all teaching English to the unending stream of pupils arriving from overseas and the EU.
The native population has been schooled in anti-racism and the need for polite and deferential manners to those previously referred to as ‘foreigners’.
In some ways It is similar today as in pre WWI Edwardian times when the UK’s upper class ruled over countless millions of domestic servants.
Many early photographs depict rows of uniformed servants, heads bowed, being lectured by the head butler in a time when obedience was usually enforced by corporal punishment.
Today our authorities remind us in much the same way that no rudeness to foreigners, or our elected representatives, will be tolerated.
Having chosen English as the EU’s official language, one can only imagine the Brussels’ bureaucrats’ disappointment at the prospect of the UK’s departure.
Already the signs of a new language war are sprouting. Before the Brexit vote restaurants in French ferry ports displayed multi- lingual menus.
Last week in Dieppe all seemed to be different. The local staff only spoke French, and we couldn’t find one with a menu in English. Maybe we looked in the wrong place or times are ‘a changing’.
If the English language is going to be ditched by the continental EU, whose is the likely replacement?
French was the universal language up until WWII- the 1938 Munich treaty between Germany and Britain was written in French, only to be supplanted by English for the signing of the Luneberg Heath surrender document in 1945.
So will French make a comeback? Afterall, as school children we were all taught French grammar so it would appear to be the logical choice, at least for the French.
However their principle linguistic challengers are the Spanish.
The rivalry is not so obvious until we cast our eyes across the Atlantic to the southernmost part of the USA and witness the ongoing competition between the English speaking Anglo Americans and the Hispanic population for whose language will be pre-eminent.
However to expect the rest of Europe to explain to a new generation of their school children that English is out and other language is in might be wishful thinking.
The member states are far more likely to stick with their own native tongues making any further EU political integration more difficult than it already is.
Past empires, be they the Spanish in the Americas, the British Commonwealth or the Russian Federation are all bound by having a common language of government and trade.
If the EU has to shed English as its official language, it might be a body blow from which it never recovers.