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Aveugles of the world, unite!

Encouraged by the smashing success of his Philippicae against the use of English by EU-economists, Jean Quatremer managed to find time in his busy schedule of reporting on the Eurozone crisis to take on the cause of Europe’s blind people. Apparently, “Le Parlement européen n’est pas “friendly” avec les handicapés linguistiques”, because the newly blind-friendly buttons of the elevators are labelled in Braille, but only in English. The same goes for the voice that informs people of the floor they’ve arrived on. As it turns out, this is only the beginning. Ever since a German (!) took over as Secretary-General of the Parliament, the Liberation reporter has observed “[une] déferlante anglophone”. Instead, I presume he wants 23 language versions all side-by-side, like the room where I defended my dissertation last year:

My Ph.D. jury. Note the Braille in the wall behind them.

Of course, the fact that it is a German who stands accused of causing this wave of Anglophonication is telling. Given that German is Europe’s most-spoken language, why not add German as a second language for blind elevator-users? At least as far as the “douce voix féminine” is concerned, the answer should be obvious to anyone who has ever taken the international train between Brussels and Amsterdam, where all messages are repeated in Dutch, French, English and German: This Is Extremely Annoying!!!

As for the buttons: while they are deliberately large and easy to find by touch, I would imagine that labelling them with more than one language would mean making the (Braille-) letters smaller, which defeats the purpose of making them easy to use. Then again, I would say that, wouldn’t I? Being part of the Anglophonication-conspiracy myself…



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