Berlin’s lingua franca

East Side Gallery flags
Walk into a cafe, say, in the Rosenthaler Platz area of Berlin and chances are you will find a room of people speaking not German, but English. These English speakers aren’t just Americans or Britons, however: they’re Italians, Germans, Japanese, and Portuguese. For many living and working in Berlin’s central Mitte district, it seems English has become the only language worth knowing.
As an Englishman, maybe I should be proud that my language has become the lingua franca not just in Berlin but across the world. Yet it is sad to see people outside the Anglosphere shunning official languages for the convenience of English. In Berlin’s case, it’s the youngsters working in the technology and media industries who seem to see German as unnecessary now that English is spoken so widely.
English certainly isn’t going away: the fact that I can write this blog in English and know that most readers will understand shows this. Still, I think we could do a better job of promoting German as a language worth learning. So, Germans and fellow German-learners: I call upon you to have more pride in your language. Speak it, enjoy it, and encourage others to do the same. Mr Shakespeare, meet Goethe…