European English

Up to recently, whenever you were writing for a European website, you would use UK English. In fact, seeing a European website written with the American spelling (color … ughhh) was almost disturbing.

It made sense for English UK to be used as the official language for the English version of a European website, because the UK was part of Europe and English originated there.

Time has passed for England: they are no longer at the head of an Empire, they are now the smallest of all English speaking countries (except perhaps for Malta), and American English is still predominant in countless manifestations of the written, even spoken English.

1280px-Countries_with_English_as_Official_Language.png

Countries with English as an Official Language and the Language of Instruction in Higher Education

Anguilla
Ireland, Northern Singapore
Antigua and Barbuda Ireland, Republic of Solomon Islands
Australia Jamaica South Africa
Bahamas Kenya Swaziland
Barbados Lesotho Tanzania
Belize Liberia Tonga
Bermuda Malawi Trinidad and Tobago
Botswana Malta Turks and Caicos Islands
British Virgin Islands Mauritius Uganda
Cameroon Montserrat United Kingdom
Canada (except Quebec) Namibia Vanuatu
Cayman Islands New Zealand Wales
Dominica Nigeria Zambia
England Papua New Guinea Zimbabwe
Fiji St. Kitts and Nevis
Gambia St. Lucia  
Ghana St. Vincent and the Grenadines  
Gibraltar Scotland  
Grenada Seychelles  
Guyana Sierra Leone  

 

Feeling has a lot to do with language. After the war in Italy, it was the Americans most people remembered as the liberators, not the English. American was the language used in films, in popular TV shows, which people who wanted to learn English watched. American English was just as requested as UK English in Italian language schools.

In the translations world, there may have been a little more discrimination, it was up to whatever market the website was intended for. But generally speaking, it made sense to use UK English for anything that wasn’t specifically aimed at the US market, even if it wasn’t specifically aimed at the UK market.

Now, not so much.

Especially when it comes to the English language, whom a dear friend used to define “A bitch”. The English language has known and become so many different forms, accents, vocabulary, that, in the words of a BBC Radio 4 show producer, “There is no such thing as a correct way to pronounce an English word”.

And yet, we all liked the idea of a sort of homeland for the English language. As Europeans, especially, we laughed along with the humorous teasing of the Northern American English as being “not the proper English”. Remember this letter to the US revoking their independence? It’s still funny.

Matters are quite different now. Whether or not you are a lover of the ideals behind the European Union, it is a fact that the UK has chosen to get out. If it doesn’t really make sense to use this flag for an English version of a European websites

usflag

does it really still make sense to use this one?

ukflag

Perhaps we should start using the pretty Irish flag (sorry Malta, you’re too little!)

irishflag

When speaking out of a European context, would it be fair to say that speaking English the way any of the above countries do, if it differs from UK English, is “incorrect”? For the first time in many years, I finally feel that any English, even a mixture of origins such as my Spanish is (my Spanish combines Spanish from Andalucia and Madrid (from my studies and life experience – as well as from Peru and Venezuela), is just fine, even if we do continue to use the UK flag.

 

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