To appear on TV, or oppose the TTP you need to know English. During the long years I spent in France, I tried to convince my friends and colleagues that French would never become the world’s lingua franca again, however much the French people were encouraged to believe it should. It seemed obvious to me that English was the uncontested winner in a world-wide search for a common means of communication. (Esperanto, too was destined for the dustbin.)
Today that reliance is striking: whether you are a sportsman being asked to comment on a game your team just won, a rebel fighter in Syria, or a Chinese movie star, if you want to be interviewed on world-wide tv, you have to have a reasonable command of English.
Although America pioneered the use of radio for propaganda purposes with Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, more recently, aside from CNN, it has pretty much left the field of international television to the English-language channels sponsored by other nations, such as France 24, Russia Today, Japan’s NHK or Al-Jazeera. Each of them employs both native and second-language English speakers. Not only that, the proliferation of news websites in English from countries around the world makes clear that whatever people think of the Empire, they welcome the accessibility of its language.
And yet, a week after the British people voted to leave the EU, which is home to dozens of languages, the French are seizing upon the occasion to claim that there is no longer any justification for English to be one of the EU’s two official languages, alongside (but in reality, way above) French.
Having spent a total of thirty years living in France, in two separate periods (1948-1957 and 1981-2000) I can testify that even as recently as the turn of the century, the ever-nationalistic French still believed their language should never have been displaced by any other. Hence, while shocking, it is no surprise to see major French politicians affirming that Europe can get along fine without the world’s most shared language (Chinese probably being the mother tongue of the greatest number of people).
But wait! Coming on the heels of this juvenile suggestion, several European leaders are saying today that the continent needs its own army, NATO being ‘insufficient’ to ensure its defense. While this assertion may appear to reflect growing European fear of Russia, it could also be a first step toward European independence from the US. If this is what is really on the minds of Europe’s leaders, as Great Britain, the US’s Trojan horse, prepares to quit their formal community, that would be the first good news the world has seen in a very long time. However, Russia should remind the Europeans that unless they are prepared to learn Russian and Chinese, they had better continue to adopt English as the language that everyone understands.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.”