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Is English the language of business?

President Chirac and his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers walked out of an EU summit when the leader of a European business lobby, a fellow Frenchman, insisted on speaking in English because it is "the language of business". Given the expansion of the EU, is it important that its ministers are prepared to share a common tongue - or was Chirac right to be offended? Should English be regarded as the universal language? Read the article and send us your view using the form below. Your replies will be posted here

The predominance of the English language on almost every level of international communication is well established and rather a constructive factor than a negative phenomenon. Being a non-native English speaker, I have no objection to be able to use this tool universally. Why would I? It is in my own interest that there is a relatively easy to learn language being spoken by millions of people around the world. As a matter of fact it is quite enjoyable as well. Common sense suggests, that united (in speaking the same language) is more preferable than divided by false interpretation or hurt linguistic pride. So, grow up M. Chirac and deal with it like a realist and a reasonable European. Richard M Zukowski, Miami, FL, USA

Whilst I consider M. Chirac an absurd, puffing dinosaur who cannot accept that the French empire of a few centuries ago is dead and gone, I cannot help feeling a certain amount of sympathy for his dislike of the ascendancy of the language of the nation that superseded it. Britain too exhibits such a tendency if we did but admit it. Since World War Two, the USA has taken over from Britain as the World’s leading imperial power, yet most of our older generation (of which I am proud to consider myself one) rail against the (appalling) "Americanisation" of our beloved English language. Bob Finbow, Haverhill

This epitomises France's inability to pull itself into the 21st century with everyone else. The English language has become the international communication solution and this will not be reversed by Chirac’s childish antics. France needs to open its eyes and see the reality of a fast changing world where their snobby intellectualism and cultural exclusiveness are ridiculous. Just as described in the fashion article a couple of days ago France is too scared to do anything new, instead they conform to the boring bourgeois standards of the past for fashion, language and social norms. Similarly the violent demonstrations against the reforming of youth employment laws highlights that even the young can’t cope with change. It seems that no one in France can accept on any level that change and less protectionism could be to their benefit. Their lack of foresight and progression means the society is becoming stagnant. They are turning their culture into a museum piece. Louise Jenkins, Paris, France

Don't generalise. If we were so protectionist, so withdrawn into ourselves, why would we learn English from as early as the age of nine? Why would we learn Spanish or German at secondary school? As far as I'm concerned, I'm a student in Foreign Applied Languages for international trade (English-Spanish). Many people seem to have a poor knowledge of France and are prejudiced against us. Unfortunately, Chirac represents France but France is not Chirac. Axel Ruis, Paris, France


March 24, 2006