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James Chandler <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Kjell scrit:
>
>>An enormous switch over to English seams to be going
>on. Ministers in new EU countries speak English to a
>significant degree. Perhaps it is not satisfactory to
>the native speakers, but to us non-native speakers
>their English is quite passable.
>
>IMO this is a tendency that can be exaggerated (often
>by Kjell!).  A few continental Europeans have mastered
>English, that warmonger Barroso for example.  But they
>are the exception.  Most of your European counterparts
>do not find English very easy, Kjell - especially
>those whose L1 is romanic.

People involved in international situations - i.e. in frequent contact with 
allophones - have always tended to speak a lingua franca. For the moment, 
English often serves as such. In 1815, despite the defeat at Waterloo, all 
important Europeans spoke French. King Bernadotte of Sweden never learnt 
Swedish and his ministers spoke to him in French! Nowadays, it is true that 
more people have a higher level of education and therefore learn a foreign 
language - often English. But, the level of linguistic education varies from 
country to country. Many French people may have spent - as I did - seven 
years being taught English at school - but how many of them would be able to 
write a contribution as I do on this forum? And, even in the countries where 
the teaching methods are better, young people may speak very well english 
when they leave the school, but forget it afterwards if they no more use it (I 
suppose mainly in countries where all of the informations they need are 
already available in their native language). In Luxembourg, a very small 
country of three hundred thousand people, most inhabitants speak the 
Frankish dialect, French, German, and often English and Italian or Portuguese 
if they are of descent from the two latter countries; because, unless if a 
Luxembourgeois/Lėtzebuerger stays secluded in his small village, he will 
obligatorily have to face international situations. For the moment, English is 
very popular in Eastern Europe, but theoretically a major switch to another 
important European language -German or French- could be possible. 
Unfortunately, international media tend to concentrate on English when they 
interview someone, though the interviewee would be able to speak in another 
language. For example, E.Barroso speaks perfect French, with no accent so 
that no-one could guess he's from Portugal. This leads sometimes to stupid 
situations where we get, in France, reportages from Quebec or Africa where 
people are talking in English (and dubbed in French)...

Olivier
http://sambahsa-mundialect-org.blogspot.com