The Times: Letters – English Language and the Zeitgeist


Germany’s President, Joachim Gauck, is right to believe that Europe has nothing to fear from English becoming the common language of the EU (“German call for English as EU language”, Feb 23).

A large part of its success is that English is constantly evolving through contact with other languages — it is half German anyway. The British Council will soon be hosting a major exhibition exploring the power and value of English, and a key focus will be the abundance of English words with overseas roots.

English is not a neo-colonial power tool for the UK, but a language which belongs to the world as much as to us. It opens doors and creates prosperity for people around the world. It does not seek to elbow out mother tongues, but to coexist and continue to evolve alongside other languages.

Mr Gauck should be heartened to know that we have Germany to thank for our dollars, glitz and wanderlust — three things the English language brings the UK in spades.

John Worne
Director of Strategy, British Council