Multilingualism: in the fabric of Europe’s identity


BabelAs a novelist and semiotics professor, Umberto Eco said ‘the language of Europe is translation’. He is quite a reliable and trustworthy source, since he has dealt with language-related topics for his whole career. In one of his best known book, “The search for the perfect language” he widely explored the possibility of a single common language, as dreamt by philosophers, novelists and theologians for centuries, since the fall of Babel’s Tower. There’s no such universal language, of course, even though during the Eighteenth century Indo-European was discovered to be the “root” of all European idioms; nowadays European idioms are a lot: only in the European Union we have recognized 24 of them as official languages, to be precise.

That makes European Institutions some sort of a Babel themselves, but unlike the biblicist narrative, Europeans managed to solve the problem with a valuable tool that brings us back to professor Eco’s quote: translation. Translation goes together with multilingualism and is an essential part of everyday job within the Institutions. One could possibly dream about a “universal language” and ask why not to choose a single language as lingua franca, in order to ease all the processes and speed up EU’s works, but that’s not possible. It’s against the rules. As Article 22 of EU Charter States recites, “The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity”. This means member states and their spokespersons can express themselves in their own mother tongue, which means a lot of work for interpreters and translators.

To give an idea about all the efforts put by EU in multilingualism, check our Wednesday Video Fix!


Matteo Poles

Social Media Specialist

Communication Trainee at TermCoord