Being a French speaker isn’t getting any easier in the EU these days. Not only are you reminded every day that your language is no longer dominant: the language of the archenemy England has taken over. Woe.
At the daily press conference at the European Commission recently, someone had put out a set of screens behind the podium commemorating the EU’s 50th birthday, which is on March 27. Fine. It said “Together since 1957” in English at the top, and then the same thing in various artistic ways in all of the Union’s gazillion official languages. Fine too.
But of course. Then came the obligatory question from a French speaking journalist: I notice that there is one language that has been given a special position… Shouldn’t you use the languages used by the first member states… What about all the languages in the new member states in Eastern Europe… blah, blah, blah. Alors.
But the Commission President’s spokesman Johannes Laitenberger gave a response that made me, for once, sin against the journalists’ golden rule No Applause From The Press Section:
“The design was by an EU citizen from one of the new member states”, he said, and after a brief elaboration (all in French of course), reached the punch line:
“But for those of you who wonder, I can say that the headline means ‘Together since 1957′”.
Touché, monsieur Laitenberger.