Saturday, July 26, 2014

Europeans now mock their public figures for bad English

If you stumble or make mistakes when trying to speak a foreign language, spare a thought for Europe’s hapless politicians. Recently, the continent’s political masters have been slapped by a new form of satirical attack—Bad English Shaming. A viral-video sub-trend, Bad English Shaming sees public figures foolhardy enough to let their rusty English be recorded on camera getting mocked and mauled for their poor foreign language skills. ...

There’s a striking connection between these three little spats: The ridicule all came not from native English speakers, but from the politicians’ own compatriots. ...

Clearly, something radical has changed. It probably isn’t the growth of American or British influence per se, as politically and culturally, these are either no greater than before or slightly on the wane. European English seems in fact to be uncoupling itself from native anglophones, a runaway caboose careering down its own track. The dominance of English as a European lingua franca is so total nowadays that it’s a basic tool for interaction even in countries where Brits and Americans rarely tread, as well as between Europe and other continents. This map shows just how far moderate English fluency has spread in Europe.

--Feargus O'Sullivan, CityLab, on being lucky to be a native English speaker