Some Greeks are not satisfied with the fact that they do not have English as an official language in their country. Recently, in the fatherland of democracy, a real discussion on this subject took place. Anna Diamantopulo, member of the European Commission, has appeared with an unusual proposition. She justifies her position with the fact in the European Union, disputes are regularly carried out into how many languages official documents need to be translated. Too much money is spent on translating all the official documents into 11 European languages. After the European Union is expanded, the number of these languages will be 20. According to Mrs Diamantopulo this is too expensive. She supposes that most Europeans speak English. “It is impossible to imagine how to simultaneously execute a translation into 20 languages. Greece should solve this problem as soon as possible and make English its second official language.” The Greek also claimed that other countries also have to solve this problem sooner or later. The proposition of Mrs Diamantopulo split the country into two camps, Washington Times writes. Its opponents say Greece should never have a second language as an official one, because this could deprive the country of its originality and undermine its national identity. According to the critics, English could be a computer language, while Greek is the language of Hellenic culture and of its political, philosophical, economic, and Christian heritage.
Diamantopulo’s proposition is being criticized not only from a cultural point of view but also from economic one. While speaking about saving money on the translations inside European Union, she completely neglects the fact that if English were to become an official language in Greece, all the documents would have to be translated into the English language inside the country.
It is not known yet what conclusion this linguistic dispute will have. However, it is a part of a more global picture. English is gradually occupying stronger positions in different countries of the world and pretending to be a global language. The knowledge of English allows many people to obtain quick promotion, while their “single-language” colleagues do not advance so quickly. However, English cannot completely substitute the native language in any country. It has only restricted functions: business contacts and international intercourse. While the discussion in Greece is only one more piece of evidence for it. English language’s official status is supported only by the ones who are concerned with Greece’s economical issues, while this proposition’s opponents protect first of all cultural role of the national language. The golden mean always can be found, and it is not necessary to make English a second national language in Greece.
Sergei Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2001/12/08/34670.html