Mark1 wrote:I and a partner have been asked to propose the motion that English ought become the common language for the European Union for the next stage of one of the many interschool debating competitions (the regional round of the Mace, if that means anything) and doing the preparation has got me thinking as to the merits and grounds for and against such a statement. I figured that the forum might be a relatively good place to try to bounce ideas off people.
Since you're proposing the motion, you may as well define it in your favour. It would be rather silly to suggest that everybody in the EU should immediately switch to English for everything. For one thing, the French would never go for it, so you may as well argue that two and two should be five.
The idea of a single *official* language, for laws and official business, isn't nearly as absurd. It's almost plausible, at least in federalist fantasy, and it certainly has efficiency on its side.
Once you accept the idea of a single language, it does make sense to pick the one that most people speak already. Worldwide, English is almost certainly not the most understood language, but in Europe, it is. At this point, a former debating team-mate would have reached into the air and claimed that 88% of EU citizens already speak fluent or near-fluent English. I'd never dream of such a thing, but I imagine the real statistic is somewhere to be found.
Canada, for the record, has two official languages and the other one's French. In practice, that's the closest you'd get.