English is the most widely-spoken language in the world.
It is currently spoken either as a L1 or as an official L2 in
approximately 75* territories (1/3 of tot. pop.).
It therefore follows that it has many different versions
*Jenkins, Jennifer (2009) World Englishes: a resource book for students, 2nd edition, London, UK, Routledge, p. 3
Kachru’s “Three circle model of World Englishes” (1985/1988)
Phase One: Foundation and Consolidation (c.1340-1600). Arrival of
the printing press and spread of organized education.
Phase Two: the Adventurers (c. 1600-1800). English-speaking natives
of the British Isles explore, settle in or are deported to remote parts of
the world, where they establish colonies.
Phase Three: The Indipendent Colonies (c.1780-1914).
Phase Four: The Colonial Subjects (c.1900-1950). English is
deliberately taught to colonial peoples through English-medium
education systems in Africa, South Asia, East Asia, the Pacific and
elsewhere, adding millions of people who use English as a ‘second’
What is standard English? , Peter Strevens, SEAMEO Regional Language Centre, Singapore, 1982
English Today / Volume 1 / Issue 02 / April 1985, pp 8-8
Cultural Indipendence (c.1950). Econocultural spread of English for practical
necessity. Large-scale learning as a foreign language all around the world. (cf.
e.g. Görlach 1995b:15). Speaker migration and imperial domination are not
the driving force any longer.
English only became a
serious choice as foreign
language in Continental
European schools towards the
end of the 19th century.
Until the Second World War, it
remained little taught.
Language driven by market
English is widely used as a lingua franca (or second language)
in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, while in southern and
eastern Europe it is still mainly a foreign language.
But as it gains ground all over Europe, it becomes adapted
(‘nativised’) in very different ways. This adaption depends on
the functions it has to perform in various contexts.
These trends will continue, especially as schools tend to
introduce foreign-language teaching earlier on.
The English Language in Europe R. R. K. Hartman, p.2
The European Economic Community founded in 1957 consisted of 6 Member States with
a combined total of 4 official languages.
By 2004 this organization had evolved into a European Union of 25 Member States with
more than 20 official languages among them.
This increase has presented numerous challenges to the EU’s internal linguistic regime,
where formal policy has, with some notable exceptions, been to treat all of these languages
Some of these languages – English in particular – have been more equal than others.
The European Court of Justice has developed a jurisprudence in cases involving such
infringements in which concern for the free movement of goods and workers has failed to
allow for an appropriate regard for the humanistic principles that also, and to a growing
extent, form part of Europe’s legal culture.
English as a tool for empowerment
Europe has become a single multilingual area, rather like India, where languages are
hierarchically related in status. As in India, there may be many who are monolingual in a
regional language, but those who speak one of the ‘big’ languages will have better access to
95% of Commission drafters write mainly in English,
although only 13% of them is of English mother tongue.
54% of them, that is more than half of the entire
Commission population drafting documents, rarely or
never have their documents checked by a native speaker
British MEP: "Because
it is deemed a
fundamental right to be
able to communicate
with your electors in
[your] own tongue, the
parliament now has to
work in 20* different
languages. This exercise
currently consumes tens
of thousands of tons of
paper a year, as every
word spoken has to be
typed up and filed in
The various solutions to Europe’s Babel all have
their drawbacks. Reducing the number of official
EU languages to three or so is a political non-
starter. The spread of English as an informal
official language is convenient, but annoys
(formerly privileged) Francophones, and not only
Fight the Fog campaign, 1998 exclusive focus on
Clear Writing campaign, 2010 set to encompass 23
of the Commission’s working languages (prov.: was it
mainly a political move, since the majority of the text
of the Commission is written in English before being
The English used within the
European institutions? A
difficult register? i.e.
A shared though variable
means of communication?
A set of intelligible
A new language?
“…a novel variety of ‘Euro-
English’ –a term which has
been used for over a decade
with reference to the
distinctive vocabulary of
the Union […], but which
must now be extended to
include the various hybrid
constructions and discourse
patterns encountered there”
Crystal D., 1999 The Future of Englishes, in English Today, 15/2
Görlach (1999, 2002)
No endonormative standard evolving: dominance of the native standard and not sufficient use
of English between Europeans to arrive at a negotiated common variety (≠ Jenkins)
English in Europe: emerging continental norm
Euro-English: learner language, pidginized English
It would be naive to assume that legitimization, codification, and standardization processes
will not take place
We are at the beginning of a process heading towards formation and acceptance of a new
concept of English as a lingua franca in its own right, with its own description and
codification. We are witnessing the emergence of an endonormative model of lingua franca
English which will increasingly derive its norms of correctness and appropriacy from its own
usage rather that that of the UK or the US, or any other ‘native speaker country’.
Décsy’s predictions (1974)
‘Eurish’, by the year 2000: Europeans’ common New English
Mutually intelligible with British and American English
Different in a large number of features (i.e. pronunciation and grammar)
First use of the term ‘Euro-English’
The English these people use is also a kind of “Euro-English”,
and it is obvious that it will be rather different from the real
present day English usage that was the original model
The term ‘Euro-English’ has often been used to mean ‘bad
English perpetrated in Brussels’ (the Eurospeak)
‘The major EU enlargement was a
fantastic achievement for democracy and
for Europe, but it brought two problems
for drafting in the Commission: the
continued rise of bad English as the
Commission’s lingua franca, and the
massive influx of new staff who naturally
adopted the prevailing in-house style,
rather than trying to reform it.’
2013: EU’s Court of Auditors developed a style guide
to correct the many misused English words that have
developed out of interference from other European
i.e. using “control” for “monitor” and being perfectly understood
(contrôler in French and kontrollieren in German)
Complete list available at:
Defining the speech community, difficult job.
Do Europeans regard themselves to be part of a
De-anglicized and de-Americanized English
aimed at maintaining Europeans’ supra-national
cultural and linguistic identity to
Express identity to one another
Express identity to the world
“Two foreign girls - nannies? tourists? - one German, one
Belgian (?), talking in English beside me on the next table,
unconcerned by my drinking and my proximity. […] These
girls are the new internationalists, roving the world,
speaking good but accented English to each other, a kind
of flawless Euro-English: "I am very bad with separation,"
the German girl says as she stands up to leave. No true
English speaker would express the idea in this way, but it
is perfectly comprehensible.”
William Boyd, "Notebook No. 9." The Guardian, July 17, 2004
Based on Mollin’s (2006) catalogue of criteria (expansion of function, nativization of form, and
institutionalization of norms) the present study tried to detect whether Continental Europe is developing its
own endonormative variety of English and what role Erasmus students might play in that process.
EU statistical data show that the English spoken in Europe is characterized by a widespread distribution of
domains, and is spoken by more than half of the European population. This naturally suggests that an
endogenous European variety of English might be developing; many of the features suggested to be
characteristic of Euro-English, however, could be identified as learners’ mistakes, in correlation with the
varying competences of the speakers. Although there do seem to be some contingent nativization
tendencies, the questioned Erasmus students seemed to adhere to standardized norms – at least in cases
where they were paying conscious attention to their language use.
There is a “substantial intergenerational shift in the use of English” and thus the hypothesis that a younger
generation acts as an ‘engine’ in the potential emergence of Euro-English. Even though the Erasmus
students appreciate the value of English as a universal lingua franca – half of them agree with the statement
that “English doesn’t belong to the native speakers any more, but to anybody who uses it” – a third however
perceive it as a threat to other languages. This may be the reason why 18.6 percent of the respondents reject
the notion that everyone in Europe should learn English in order to facilitate communication. Moreover,
74.6 percent of the respondents regard their respective native languages as more important than English. For
this reason one can agree with Mollin (2006: 177–178) that English in Europe is only a “lingua franca that
complements the language repertoire, but it is not perceived by Continental Europeans as a substitute for
their own languages.” English does not seem be a language these young Europeans identify with, but rather
one that they use for pragmatic reasons only”
Christian R. Forche: On the emergence of Euro-English as a potential European variety of English – attitudes and interpretations
Euro-English shaped by two forces
• ‘Top-down force’
Rules and regulations
of the EU
• ‘Bottom-up force’
who have to use
English to each other
*Theory of communication developed by Howard Giles. It argues that “when people interact they
adjust their speech, their vocal patterns and their gestures, to accommodate to others.”
Turner, Lynn H.; West, Richard (2010). "Communication Accommodation Theory". Introducing Communication Theory:
Analysis and Application (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
February 2004: Eurojargon a 350-page dictionary published
by The European Information Association: a dictionary of
abbreviations, acronyms, sobriquets and terminology used in
the European Union’s agencies, institutions, schemes, projects
and programmes. There are more than 5,200 entries.
Ex. Erasmus, Leonardo, Socrates
Actor/s – According to the list, EU publications use this word to mean ‘people or
organisations used in doing something’. This word is rarely used in this sense in the
UK/ Ireland, where it is mostly only used to mean actual actors (e.g. in a play or a
The situation of general violence in Mogadishu was sufficiently intense to enable the
ECtHR to conclude that any returnee would be at a real risk of ill-treatment contrary
to Article 3 solely on account of his or her presence in the country, unless it could be
demonstrated that he or she was sufficiently well connected to powerful actors in the
city to enable him or her to obtain protection.
Handbook on European law relating to asylum, borders and immigration, (2013) p.6
Mission – According to EU usage, being on “mission” is when an employee is
working away from their place of residence for the purpose of an assignment. This
word in UK/ Irish usage means either a secret mission (think Mission Impossible,
secret agents) or a trip which a missionary takes to spread the message of the Bible.
Missions, as used in the sentence below, indicates that these interns are sent to spy
or gather information from another institution:
In exceptional cases only, justified by the requirements of the internship project, the
Director may grant authorisation for the intern to be sent on mission, on the
condition that the mission is of a technical nature and not of a representative one.
(CEPOL – Decision of the Director on Internships).
In order to find evidence of the formal independence of Euro-
English Mollin (2006: 88–157) compiled a 400,000-word EE-
CORPUS which comprises 240,000 words transcribed from
spoken language and 160,000 from written text.
However the spoken language is taken from public discussions
and briefings in official EU contexts (from the European
Commission’s online audio archive, press conferences and
briefings). These sources can hardly be regarded as prototypical
for the general European citizen, as EU officials are likely to speak
more formally, avoiding language which others may find non-
Euro-English: Assessing Variety Status, Sandra Mollin
“Terms which are peculiar to the European experience and
which are not generally understood by users of English
living in other parts of the world”
Euro, Euro zone, Euro area
Member States (instead of state, country, nation),
internal market (instead of domestic market)
Berlaymont (referring to bureaucratisation and red
tape) (Modiano 2001:13-14)
To hop over ‘refrain from doing sth.’ < schwed.
hoppa over (Modiano 2001: 14)
To be blue eyed ‘to be naïve and easily fooled’ <
schwed. Blåögd (Modiano 2003: 39)
To salt ‘overcharge’ <schwed. at salta (Modiano
Cucumber time meaning off-season <Ger.
The word «actual» meaning «current»
(Ferguson 1992: xvii, Berns 1995: 6)
i.e. Dutch actueel, French actuel, Portuguese actual, Italian attuale
The word «eventual» in the sense of «possible»;
(Mollin 2006: 110–114)
i.e. Italian eventuale, French éventuelle, German eventuell, Danish eventuel
Conflation between possibility and opportunity
(Mollin 2006: 110–114)
The word transmit in the sense of «to pass on, to forward»
ie. French transmettre
The word foresee in the sense of provide i.e. French prévoir
i.e. I’m coming from Sweden (instead of «I come
from»), we were five people present (instead of «there
were»), on the other side instead of on the other hand
(Modiano 2001:14) (Mollin 2006:120)
Abbreviations and blendings
i.e. EURATOM, EIB, EMU, eurocrat (Symigné
Plural marker-s with non-countable nouns
(Crystal 2003: 155)
i.e. informations, advices, datas, evidences, equipments
Increase of redundancy by adding prepositions
i.e. We have to study about… and We can discuss about…?
Increase of explicitness
i.e. black colour vs. black; how long time? vs. how long?
Omission of definite or indefinite articles before nouns
i.e. Our countries have signed agreement about this
One identical form for all present tense verbs
i.e. the loss of the third person mark –s
i.e. She lookØ very sad
(Seidlhofer 2001: 16)
The interchangeability of the relative pronouns who and which
i.e. the picture who, a person which
Use of «isn’t it?» as universal question tag
i.e. You’re very busy today, isn’t it?
Use of infintive form instead of gerund
i.e. I look forward to see you tomorrow
Use of simplified sentence constructions
i.e. Parataxis vs. hypotaxis
Overuse of high semantic generality verbs
i.e. do, have, make, put, take
Use of that-clauses instead of infinitive constructions
i.e. I want that we discuss about my dissertation
Given that ‘Euro-English’ is in its infancy, it is not yet
possible to describe its accents with confidence.
Nevertheless, there are certain indications as to the
direction in which ‘Euro-English’ accents are evolving.
When English is spoken among its L2 speakers, mutual
intelligibility is the primary factor in determining
Influence of the first language can be
Substitution of the phonemes /θ/ or /ð/ phoneme either by /d/
and /t/ or /s/ and /z/
Loss of vowel length contrasts
i.e. ‘live’ pronounced as ‘leave’ and vice versa
(Jenkins 2001: 17–18)
E.g. intonation, stress
Slower rate of speech
Avoidance of features of connected speech such as assimilation (Crystal
Lexical gaps in the vocabulary of the speaker, lack of
‘Unilateral idiomaticity’: this occurs when one
speaker uses a native speaker idiomatic expression
such as an idiom, phrasal verb or metaphor, that the
interlocutor does not know (e.g. ‘this drink is on the
house’ instead of ‘this drink is a present from us’)
‘Particularization procedures’ (in direction of the speakers’ L1
or native English)
"I don't think Euro-English exists yet, as a
variety comparable to American English Indian
English or Singlish. But the seeds are there. It
will take time. The new Europe is still an
(David Crystal, By Hook or by Crook: A Journey in Search of English. Overlook, 2008)
Euro-English: Assessing Variety Status Sandra Mollin
Euro- English Jennifer Jenkins, Marko modiano and barbara seidhofer perspectives on
an emerging variety on the mainland of Europe, from commentators in Sweden,
Austria and England
Michele Gazzola, Managing Multilingualism in the European Union: Language policy
evaluation for the European Parliament
Turner, Lynn H.; West, Richard (2010). "Communication Accommodation
Theory". Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application (4th
ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.