Guido Westerwelle and the campaign to promote more German in Europe - Deutsch: Sprache der Ideen

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Welt Online has a lot of articles on the front today about Germany's foreign minister Guido Westerwelle's campaign to promote the status of German in Europe, and the status of the language itself. The four articles are here, here, here and here, though only the first one is new. The other three are from February, and last October and September. A quick summary of the four:

Article 1 is on Westerwelle's campaigning for the language, given that it's the language most spoken as a mother tongue in Europe (about 100 million). One concrete example is how he wants to see German as a working language in the EU's new diplomatic service.

Welt has a bar next to comments below articles that shows how many readers approve of vs. disagree with a comment, and the general trend is this:

I.e. Westerwelle awesome, more German! gets a lot of green, and Westerwelle suck! gets a lot of red.

Article 2 is on why German is discriminated against in the EU, saying for example that no English or French diplomat get asked questions in a foreign language by reporters. The article says that in 2005 there were 17 million German students throughout the world compared to 14.5 million now, though there has been a recent reversal of this trend in some places like France. The article also mentions an official campaign called Deutsch - Sprache der Ideen (German - language of ideas), which is here. According to that the countries that learn German the most are Poland (2.35 million), Russia (2.3 million) and France (1.2 million).

Article 3 is again about Westerwelle, including a poll in October by Bild am Sonntag where 54% of the 503 respondents agreed that press conferences in Germany should only be in German, while 44% did not.

Article 4 is an opinion piece made just after the kerfuffle over the English question the reporter asked Westerwelle that believes that there is actually a good practical reason for as a rule not accepting questions in other languages by ministers - that diplomacy is too nuanced a subject for questions to be made and answered off the cuff in other languages as misunderstandings could easily occur.

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