Some of the problems derived from the lack of one national language for the EU
can be seen in this cause-effect diagram. This inefficient situation, already pointed
out long ago, hadn’t until recently any stable solution.
The revival of the modern European language makes it possible, with adequate linguistic policy and planning, to put an end to many of these problems and to open a new horizon for integration and collaboration among EU citizens and regions.
Since the very beginnings of the EEC, the three main languages (working languages), English, French and German, were used for every communication, while English was unofficially the lingua franca used by all in direct conversations and other immediate communication needs. This model, the most logical and simple in the initial small European Community, has become obsolete, with the increase in the number of official languages and, at the same time, the growth of political demands for more presence in EU institutions among defenders of regional or co-official languages.
It seems today that every hope of achieving a USA-like system -where English is the only official language for the Federation- is discarded: while in US history English has won in every Federal State –although there is also co-officiality in some, like Spanish in New Mexico or French in Louissiana-, in Europe the Union does not lay its foundations on some English-speaking colonies of immigrants; on the contrary, the only reason why English is spoken as the European lingua franca is the predominant position of the US within the international community since the foundation of the ECSC until today.
The choice of English as the only official language for a future EU based on federalism is discarded; countries like Germany or France - and possibly Spain, Italy or Poland -, among others, would not accept it, as it would mean to abandon legitimate lingusitic rights in favour of other States, without a sufficient justification in terms of population, political or economical relevance. The existence of a Nation with at least 25 official languages where none is over the others is a beautiful idea, and also an obvious utopia. At present, 21 languages (and four at least to come) are official, some semi-official (like basque or catalan), 3 of them working languages - i.e., officiously more important than the rest-, and one, English, serves (unofficially) for general communication. This does not seem the best of the solutions: it lacks the European spirit necessary for correct integration between the different nations in a common country, and is an inefficient solution, as the cause-effect diagram shows.
To date, only some isolated proposals had claimed to be intermediate solutions, as the adoption of Esperanto or Latin, languages whose main advantage consisted in not being any of the present EU languages and, because of that, not having theoretical cultural barriers for its acceptance. Latin has been Europe’s lingua franca for centuries (before being substituted by French in the 18th century), while Esperanto was created with an international vocation, aimed at - above all - being easy to learn. However, as both of them are not living linguae francae (invented Esperanto, death Latin) and they are unable to become EU’s national language (artificial Esperanto, mother of only Romance languages Latin), the Europeans’ answer has been at best of indifference to such proposals, thus accepting the defficient linguistic statu quo.
The language of Israel is modern Hebrew: it is not their only language,
as many old Israelis still speak better their old languages - like Judeo-Spanish
or Yiddish (Judeo-German) - than modern Hebrew, and it is certainly not a
very practical language from an international point of view; however, the
Land of Israel needed a language, and even though they also had the possibility
of choosing other linguae francae, international
(like French, English or Turkish), old (like Latin or its equivalent
to Hebrews, Aramaic) or even artificial (like Volapük or recent Esperanto),
they chose the historical language of Israel, Hebrew, a language dead 2.500 years
before - after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babilonians of Nebuchadnezzar II -,
and whose texts, orally transmitted, are deemed 500 years older. Hebrew could
only be reconstructed with limited exactitude, and at first opposition to the
language was generalized, mainly because of religious concerns; but, in practice,
it was a language that united tradition and ease of use and learning, as many
jews learned (and still learn today) the sacred texts in old Hebrew, just as
many European countries still study Latin or Classic Greek.
Europe faces today a similar decision. We don’t have to defend more European integration; this is maybe all we can achieve in our Union of countries, just a supranational entity. But if we want, as it seems, to achieve a Confederation-like State (like Switzerland) or even a Federation (as the US or Germany), then the only linguistic (non-utopic) solution, which unites tradition and ease of use and learning, is Europaio or the European language, because it is the grandmother of almost all of our languages. Europaio is free of regional meaning –that could hurt the national proud of the others-, and, at the same time, full of European (or northern Indo-European) common significance.
The game theory is a branch of applied mathematics that
studies strategic situations where players choose different actions in an
attempt to maximize their returns. It studies optimal strategies of foreseen
and observed behaviour of individuals in such games; it studies, then, the
choice of the optimal behaviour when costs and benefits of each option are not
fixed, but depend on the choice of the other players.
The EU’s Linguistic Policy game is depicted here in extensive form, with a decision tree, where each vertex (or node) represents a point of choice for a player. The player is specified by a number listed by the vertex. The lines out of the vertex represent a possible action for that player. The payoffs are specified at the bottom of the tree.
In this simplified game there are 2 players. Player 1, who represents any linguistic community within the EU, moves first and choose between two options; one, (E) Egoistical, consists in favouring the own language, and the other (R) , consists in Renouncing the own language in favor of any other option. Player 2, who represents other linguistic community within the EU, sees the move of player 1 and choose in turn E or R. For example, if player 1 chooses E and then player 2 chooses R, player 2 obtains 2 points and player 1 obtains 5 points; if he chooses E, both obtain 3 points each. The payoff of being able to speak the own language with better status than the other is then 5 -due to, say, national proud-, and the contrary -for the same reason- has a value of 2, while speaking both languages at the same level has a payoff of 3.
This -simplistically depicted- game is constantly played within the EU by the different linguistic communities: UK and Ireland for English, Germany and Austria mainly for German, France and Belgium for French,etc.
The equilibrium obtained in this game is always the same, as every pair of players has in the Egoistic the best of their possible decisions. Player 1, which is the first to decide (let’s say he decides first because he represents an important linguistic community, like the English, or a majority, like the German) obtains 5 or 3 points if he behaves Egoistically, but 3 or 2 points if he Renounces his linguistic rights. The first option (underlined) is the best in any of the possible events. For the second player, the payoff of behaving Egoistically is 3 or 5, while Renouncing his rights would give him 2 or 3 points. Again, the Egoistical behaviour is the best.
It is obvious, however, that this output (3,3) is inefficient for the EU, which would benefit from the sacrifice of some linguistic communities to obtain a better situation, although none is prepared to give up. Hence the unstable equilibrium, where everybody has an interest in changing the final output, in negotiations where the EU looks for the optimal punctuation of the scheme (7 points), with less languages (in the real world the EU chooses unofficially English as lingua franca and French and German for some other working issues), while every community has an incentive to behave Egoistically to be, in a hypothetical situation, the one to enjoy the maximum output of 5 points.
After the introduction of modern Europaio (a systematized Indo-European), the payoff of the option in which both players renounce their linguistic rights change, but the solution of the game (at least in theory), paradoxically, not.
The payoff of behaving Egoistically for both players is 3 or 5 points,
while that of Renouncing is 2 or 5. Then, even after the introduction of
Europaio as the alternative, the output of the game will still be the
The global situation is completely different, though, as the equilibrium sought by the EU is that which will give the maximum global payoff, 10; once obtained this equilibrium, no player will have incentives to change his decision, because his situation will not be better off. The game has, then, only one Nash Equilibrium, Pareto optimal, and the players (which are, in general, rational) will choose the strategies that agree with it.