French President leaves meeting when a fellow Frenchman speaks English.

French President leaves meeting when a fellow Frenchman speaks English.

Belgium; France

Chirac leaves summit as Frenchman speaks English
I first saw the story on Reuters website, but now it can be read on the Guardian website
Guardian LINK

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.
Thu Mar 23, 2006 6:53 PM GMT
Old Reuters Link

The French president briefly left a EU summit meeting when the head of the French UNICE business lobby started speaking in English. The head of the lobby said that English was now the language of business.

- English, French and German are the working languages of the 25-members of the EU.
- All the 20 languages of the EU members are used during summits, meetings and EU parliament.

Language Issues:
- There is no question about it, the business world does need a single language to communicate in.
- Language and culture are always emotional issues in the context of nationalism, but economics speaks the language of money.

- What is the point of walking out?
- How important are these summits anyway?
- With more countries, regions and fiefdoms getting on the language bandwagon, are we back on the slippery slop of nationalism?
- With more non-native speakers of English speaking English than native speakers, one can assume that English is not a political issue any more.

What are the costs accrued to businesses from not having a common language for politics?


Anonymous said...

> With more non-native speakers of
> English speaking English than
> native speakers (...)

Well, do those non-native *really* speak? Or is that yet another myth? It would be nice if one could quantify the number of the triers... well... speakers, multiplied by the level of their proficiency, after much money and time invested!

Anyway, you have a great blog. Congratulations!
James P.

Lawrence said...


Thank you for your positive comments, I really appreciate it.

I would agree with your sentiments on *really* speak. As an English teacher/coach, I might be biased and interpret *speak* to mean *communicate.* Hence, maybe on this interpretation a really substantial number of people can communicate (speak) in English.

It’s a big effort for non native speakers of English to speak English, but maybe an effort that has to be done. I’m more inclined to think in terms of relative skills rather than absolute skills.

All the best


Anonymous said...

Hi, Lawrence

It is nice to see that we have common points of view. Specially that the language problem is a matter that really counts. I love your blog and the many smart questions/facts/comments you present at every story.

In my country one can see tons and tons of ads offering almost instantaneous language skills, mostly for English, but also for Spanish (and recently Mandarin Chinese, waaal...)

And 49% of the people are immediately and obviously frustrated. That has
a taste of "What a stupid guy I am! - if EVERYBODY can speak the language [English] in 3 months, why can't I?"

Most of the remaining 49% think
they speak, but, as you wrote, they just communicate at some level. Ask
them to express themselves about
more elaborated topics/thinking
and... uhhh... ehhh... They seem
not to be as clever as they really
are. It is not a fair system to
invest huge amounts of money and
time to seem a half-literated man in international scale.

Keep bringing such interesting stories to us!

Saludos desde Brasil, :-)

Lawrence said...

Thanks James for your support.

Keep in touch,