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Euroblogging, British debate and language – strange conclusions

I was a little astonished when I read the most recent blog post by Ronny Patz “How the dominance of English kills the European debate“. Three things are highlighted:

  1. The British debate is boring and old fashioned and not interesting any more. Moreover it kills the (real) European (blogging) debate
  2. English as the common language in Europe is promoting the perspective towards the UK debate and therefore not good as lingua franca
  3. Because of number 1 and 2 we shall ignore blog post related to the British debate and do not promote the (Euro)blogs any more

I disagree on all three points mentioned.

Europe / the European Union covers a broad field of topics and issues. No one can really tackle all policy areas and can be an expert or even interested in every particular topic. We are “United in Diversity” even is this respect. If Ronny prefers discussing and blogging the CAP so be it. I guess there are many people who are interested or directly effected by this old European policy issue. If there is no big blogosphere about European agricultural policy you can regret it or even change it but this is no excuse to degrade the British debate in the extend as it was done in the above mentioned blog post.

British debate is stimulating rather than destructive
The British debate is (again) up-to-date and could shape the future of the whole European Union. Thus it is not boring but rather necessary to join the debate and speak out. Ronny is right that many arguments are as old as the British debate itself. But is this a reason to leave the discussion to others. No, especially the Euroblogosphere should be engaged to broaden the perspective and to have a transnational European discussion.
Moreover the British debate is not only replying old arguments again and again but is also producing future debates about the general structure of the EU. Have a look at Roger LiddlesBasic Arithmetic“. It’s not only about the past but also about the possible future. Euroblogs shall raise their voice in this debate.

Against the “Brussels bubble” – A citizens Europe
I’m now just guessing but maybe Ronny is too much in his academic approach. The CAP will never ever gets normal citizens interested in the European Union. We have just started the “European Year für Citizens” to make people aware of the achievements of the European integration. This is already a huge mission and should be done not only in one specific year but on an ongoing daily basis. To focus on Romanian or Polish farmers could be interesting for Ronny – which is great – but we have to attract citizens about the EU from scratch. And this includes important debates like the European struggle with Britain or the British struggle with the EU (choose your perspective) as it covers the the crucial question about what European Union we want to have. I’m not arguing against expert talks but we have to leave the “Brussels bubble” to reach all the people in Europe with the European project and the core idea.

The Englisch language is an advantage
This brings me to the English language. I don’t get Ronnys point. In using English we do automatically focus on the British debate? I don’t think so. English gives us the opportunity to have a cross-border communication at all. I’m not able to speak Spanish, Greek or Finish but nevertheless I can read Euroblogs from those countries as they provide their specific national perspective in English. Now their opinion is accessible for me, thanks to a lingua franca. We had Latin on the continent before and a dominant French language period and now it’s English. I can only see this as an advantage and a tool to stimulate the European debate over the borders.

Bloggingportal.eu as colorful as possible

“Ignore UK debates as much as possible, not promote related blog posts on Bloggingportal.eu and instead link to other debates instead.”

Those last lines are kind of embarrassing. Who is setting the (blogging) agenda and who decides what is important in the European debate? Bloggingportal is supposed to be a platform for all who are interested in European issues no matter what it is. To exclude blogs or to ignore specific blog post just because the content is not to someones preference is a bit arrogant – I’m sorry.

Featured picture by CC BY 2.0 woodleywonderworks

Published inEuropean Union

4 Kommentare

  1. I agree. To have EU citizens debate union-wide, we must have a common language (lingua franca). And that will most probably be English.

  2. Ron Ron

    I’ve already summarised/rephrased my thoughts here.

    But just to react more directly:

    I think English is a good lingua franca, but it still draws a lot of attention to the British debate. Thanks to English, this part of the European debate already has a lot of attention. I therefore think that it does not need (much more) additional promotion. Instead, I would like to help to promote a much wider debate, with many more arguments than the ones we get in and from the UK debate which really is turning in circles.

    So English is and will be important. But since it is so important, we have to make addition efforts to notice what is happening outside in other languages or even in English-language blogs that don’t focus on the European debate related to the UK question and which don’t get the attention they could have.

    And I wouldn’t focus too much on “CAP blogging”. I just used it as a case that is less about being inside or outside the EU but a debate about European politics more broadly. I could have said “free movement/open borders” instead, which I think is a debate that many Europeans are or would be ready to have – and for which there are quite different perspectives depending on where you live in Europe, how your social situation is and how you see the world more generally.

  3. I am a bit astonished you, Ron, wrote you think “English is a good lingua franca”. In your blog you made the point that English as a lingua franca draws the attention to English matters. You seem to think that this is no good.

    I got the impression you rather think it’s just good to have a lingua franca. If it’s English, ok, why not – if we can finish to argue about the never ending English subjects.

    If so, how about thinking of an alternative lingua franca. It seems to me that English somehow failed as a common European language of e.g. the European debate – probably less than 5 % of the Europeans take part in such a debate in English. English seems to be an easy language – but in fact only a small percentage of the population are comfortable with using it in blog comments. This is because it’s more difficult it seems…

    How about thinking what Europe would be, if for some time pupils would learn and speak Esperanto to a greater extent? Would people still speak mainly about English matters?

    Shouldn’t at least the pupils be properly informed about Esperanto, so they could decide on their own, if they liked to learn it and use it? No doubt such a programme would take a long time and in the meantime English would still be the lingua franca. But as Lao-tzu said: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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