I have been talking to my line manager in the Civil Service about my performance self-assessment, and he mentioned something very intriguing and interesting.
Apparently, there is something called “EU English”. He notices it with me occasionally (well, it’s annoying it’s even an issue, but hey, I’ve only been living in English speaking countries for fourteen years, right?), but it’s much more prominent in meetings at Brussels. It’s essentially English spoken by foreigners which he cannot make heads or tails of – yet other foreigners do. They are happily chatting away, and he is sitting there not a bit annoyed because even though they do speak English, his very own mother tongue, he is unable to understand what they say. The grammar structure, the wording, the expressions are all wrong, and his English brain cannot process them. And yet they are readily understood by people who speak English as a second language, even though they come from widely different backgrounds.
I find this concept fascinating. Is it possible that a version of English has evolved with is based on grammar structures shared between every other European language but English? (Seeing how much common English has with other Indo-European languages, it’s quite unlikely.) Or perhaps the peculiarities of the language make it easy to make the same mistake, regardless of what your first language is? After all, English is an incredibly fluid language, as opposed to the very structured German, for example. Either way, it’s incredibly interesting.