Euro-English in Language

Euro-English is generally understood to denote a European variety of the English language
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Euro-English is an emerging variety of the English language used by speakers in the European Union whose mother tongue is not English.

Gnutzmann et al. point out that "it is not clear, as yet, whether English in Europe will in the foreseeable future become a language in its own right, one that is 'owned' by its multilingual speakers, or whether the orientation towards native-speaker language norms will continue to persist" ("Communicating Across Europe" in Attitudes Towards English in Europe, 2015).


"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)

The Forces Shaping Euro-English

"[T]he evidence is accumulating that a Euro-English is growing. It is being shaped by two forces, one 'top-down' and the other 'bottom-up.'

"The top-down force comes from the rules and regulations of the European Union. There is an influential English Style Guide issued by the European Commission. This makes recommendations about how English should be written in official documents from the member states.

On the whole it follows standard British English usage, but in cases where British English has alternatives, it makes decisions--such as recommending the spelling judgment, not judgement...

"More important than these 'top-down' linguistic pressures, I suspect, are the 'bottom-up' trends which can be heard around Europe these days.

Ordinary Europeans who have to use English to each other every day are 'voting with their mouths' and developing their own preferences. . . . In sociolinguistics, the technical term for this interaction is 'accommodation.' People who get on with each other find that their accents move closer together. They accommodate to each other...

"I don't think Euro-English exists yet, as a variety comparable to American English or Indian English or Singlish. But the seeds are there. It will take time. The new Europe is still an infant, linguistically."

(David Crystal, By Hook or by Crook: A Journey in Search of English. Overlook, 2008)

Characteristics of Euro-English

"[I]n 2012 a report found that 38% of the EU’s citizens speak [English] as a foreign language. Nearly all of those working at EU institutions in Brussels do. What would happen to English without the English?

"A sort of Euro-English, influenced by foreign languages, is already in use. Many Europeans use 'control' to mean 'monitor' because contrôler has that meaning in French. The same goes for 'assist,' meaning to attend (assister in French, asistir in Spanish). In other cases, Euro-English is just a naive but incorrect extension of English grammatical rules: many nouns in English that don’t properly pluralise with a final 's' are merrily used in Euro-English, such as 'informations' and 'competences.' Euro-English also uses words like 'actor,' 'axis' or 'agent' well beyond their narrow range in native English...

"It could be that whatever native-speakers might consider correct, Euro-English, second language or no, is becoming a dialect fluently spoken by a large group of people who understand each other perfectly well. Such is the case of English in India or South Africa, where a small group of native speakers is dwarfed by a far larger number of second-language speakers. One effect may be that this dialect would lose some of the tricky bits of English, such as the future perfect progressive ('We will have been working') that aren’t strictly necessary."

(Johnson, "English Becomes Esperanto." The Economist, April 23, 2016)

Euro-English as a Lingua Franca

- "Tramp . . . could be the first English-language glossy magazine aimed at people who speak Euro-English as a second language."

("Social Vacuum." The Sunday Times, April 22, 2007)

- "In the case of English in Europe, there seems little doubt that it will continue to increase its position as the dominant lingua franca.

Whether this will result in varieties of European Englishes, or in a single variety of Euro-English being used as a lingua franca can only be determined by further research. The extent to which it is 'stifling' (Görlach, 2002:1) other European languages by steadily encroaching on more and more domains also needs to be researched, as do European attitudes toward English, especially the attitudes of the young."

(Andy Kirkpatrick, World Englishes: Implications for International Communication and English Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Further Reading