Brexit has been blamed for all manner of things: changing trade routes, price increases, you name it. However, one of the latest things it stands accused of is the eventual dilution of the purity of the English language and the rise of something called Euro-English. Wait, what? Isn't that just English? Well, sort of. It is a hybrid (or bastardisation, depending on how you view it) of internet-speak, simplified language, and American English. Want to know more about what Euro-English actually means? Join us!
A not-new language
Euro-English, despite what the Brexit doom-and-gloomers would like us to think, has been on the rise for, well, decades, probably. It is a fusion, a common ground for both native and non-native English speakers to converse in, and for the most part, is nothing but the language that we already know and use.
Phrases that are grammatically ‘wrong’, such as we were six people at the restaurant, in place of there were six people at the restaurant, have become commonplace for continental Europe. As have statements such as I am coming from Germany instead of I come from Germany. Teachers of English as a foreign or second language will often tell their students the ‘correct’ way to use English to get them through their exams, but even they have become used to hearing phrases like these ones without flinching too hard.
It's still English, though. What’s different?
In short—nothing. It’s still the same English language that has been evolving in all manner of ways since English first ‘began’. But it has nuances now, more universal expressions, and to be honest, is not so different from the English you’ll see used on the internet every day; change can be a good thing, not an abomination or something to fear!
There are even some ‘new’ uses of words in Euro-English that standard English is yet to come up with. Examples of which are: Berlaymont, which means bureaucracy. Eventual as a synonym for possible or possibly (how very positive-thinking!). Conditionality meaning conditions. And semester meaning six months—not to be confused with the fifteen-week period in the American academic calendar.
English comes in different flavours (or flavors)
It might not be something the average English speaker will consider, but English teachers are all too aware of the different types of English that it’s possible to learn (and teach). There’s industry-standard English with things like Aviation English, and a hundred different ways to attempt to make a business English lesson more interesting. But what’s more complicated, and often leads to confusion (or even hilarity when words have different meanings depending on the continent you’re on), is the native variation; should you learn Australian English? British? American? Which is best?
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Euro-English has long adopted American English as its preference. It’s easy to see why when so many of our favourite shows are from America. And though it might seem odd when British English is sat there on Europe’s doorstep, American English does have quite a bit more going for it; it’s the ‘standard’ English used on the internet (around 70% use American instead of British English online), for the most part has easier, more logical spellings, and generally is less stiff upper-lipped about how grammar is used.
Here’s where Brexit may play a part in that
With the UK as part of the EU, it’s been easy to persuade other nations that British English is the way to go, and to demand that others adopt British language conventions. But with the UK leaving, that leaves only five million native English speakers within the EU, and even countries like Ireland and Malta who have English as one of their official languages would prefer that something other than English is used as the EU’s lingua franca.
The celebrations the French had post-Brexit referendum must have been immense.
But will French see a resurgence in interest in its beautiful tongue? Should German or Spanish replace the language of the country so desperate to be independent? It seems unlikely. English has a better chance of remaining as the unofficial lingua franca of, well, many things, including the EU, because of its widespread use globally. If we think of English as a tool rather than a language, it’s easy to see why so many would be reluctant to give it up.
That we will have to possibly adapt to seeing American English rather than British English on the world stage maybe a bitter pill to swallow for some. But surely adapting to a few less letters, or loosening up on our grammar politicking, is far less strenuous than having to learn an entire new language to converse in like non-natives do. Us native English speakers should consider ourselves lucky, whatever the outcome!