Euro English

Euro English, Euro-English or European English, less commonly known as EU English, Continental English and EU Speak, is a group of dialects of the English language as used in Europe, based on common mistranslations and the technical jargon of the European Union (EU) and the native languages of its non-native, English-speaking population. It is mostly used among EU staff, expatriates and migrants from EU countries, young international travellers (such as exchange students in the EU’s Erasmus programme) and European diplomats with a lower proficiency in the language.

The usage of the English language in Europe progressed through the 19th century, when the British Empire inherited colonies elsewhere in Europe such as Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Menorca, Heligoland, and the Ionian Islands, the latter three in modern-day Spain, Germany, and Greece respectively.

The term “Euro English” was first used by Carstensen in 1986 to denote the adoption of anglicisms in Europe.

The enlargement of the European Union over several decades gradually diminished the influence of two of the EU’s working languages (German and French). The development of the Erasmus Programme created a new class of mobile young Europeans who needed a lingua franca to communicate across Europe, and English usually filled that role.

In 2006, Mollin rejected the idea that Euro-English existed as an independent variety of English amongst European academics at the time. According to Forche (2012), ‘The question whether the appropriation of English by non-native speakers in Continental Europe is giving rise to a potential European variety of English has not yet been resolved.’ In his test group of Erasmus students, Forche found more evidence of Euro-English than Mollin did amongst European academics. Many of the features suggested to be characteristic of Euro-English could be identified as learners’ mistakes, although there are some nativisation tendencies. Although these young mobile Europeans had a greater potential to shape a continental norm, they appeared to use English mostly for pragmatic reasons rather than a language they strongly identified with, and there was still not enough evidence to conclude Euro-English constituted an independent variety.

Euro-English was heavily influenced and dominated by British English, due to the United Kingdom having been an EU member state between 1973 and 2020. However, the UK’s withdrawal in early 2020 means that the EU’s scope of native English dialects has been mostly reduced to the varieties of Hiberno-English spoken in the Republic of Ireland; one source believes that this will allow room for Romance languages to have more of an influence on Euro-English. There is also a possibility of a Romance language replacing English. After the UK withdrew from the EU, the Government of France wanted to encourage greater use of French as a working language.

Mannoni (2021) found that both the Euro English as found in European Union law, as well as legal Chinese in Mainland China, were ‘hybrid languages’.

The Unicode Common Locale Data Repository Project had drafted/defined “en-150” for English in Europe.

The Directorate-General for Translation of the EU has a style guide for the English language to help write clear and readable, regular English. This guide is based on British English. It does not consider itself a guide for a distinct EU English that is different from real English, and merely mentions EU-specific terminology as a distinguishing feature.

It prefers British English to American English, but recommends avoiding very colloquial British terms. This style guide defines the thousand separator as space or as a comma, and the plural of euro as euro.

“English is widely used on the European continent as an international language. Frequently conferences are conducted in English (and their proceedings published in English) when only a few of the participants are native speakers. At such conferences the English spoken often shows features at variance with the English of England but shared by the other speakers. Continental meanings of eventual and actual, continental uses of tenses, calques on French formulas of conference procedure, various details of pronunciation, and dozens of other features mark the English as an emerging continental norm. Native speakers attending the conference may find themselves using some of these features as the verbal interaction takes place.”

– Charles A. Ferguson (1992)

Non-native English speakers frequently drop the third person singular suffix (-s). For example: he often call meetings.

Speakers of Euro English, in particular those from Eastern Europe, may use the progressive aspect with stative predicates, such as saying I’m coming from Spain instead of I come from Spain. This is typically not allowed in Standard English, but it is permissible in Euro English.

A construction that appears with very high frequency in European speakers of English is, for example, Euro English we were five people at the party, as opposed to Standard English there were five people at the party. Such constructions introduce a type of mandatory “clusivity” to the English language, in which the speaker always signifies whether they are a part of some bigger group.

Euro English also features slightly more frequent usage of the indefinite personal pronoun one, such as in one can protect one’s country. This mirrors the more frequent usage of such pronouns in European languages, but is also sometimes used as third-person reflexive pronouns, such as with French on and se, Scandinavian sig and sin, German sich, etc.

Some words are given a plural with a final “s” in Euro-English, such as “informations” and “competences”, to match similar words in European languages (such as informations and competences in French), while this pluralisation is ungrammatical in British or American English.

It is extremely frequent among European speakers of English to prefer the singular they in formal contexts, whereas native English speakers in the US and UK have historically considered it an informal colloquialism.[dubious – discuss] This mirrors the usage of “singular plurals”, in terms of levels of formality, in European languages, such as French vous, German Sie, older Spanish vos, Danish and Norwegian De, even though all of these examples are strictly used in the second person.

The English plural of the word euro was first defined as euro without a final s, before becoming euros with a final s.