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JLeslie's avatar

I noticed the Olympic opening ceremonies were announced in English and French, is it common in England to have or offer both?

Asked by JLeslie (48218 points ) August 11th, 2012

Or, is it just a tradition or courtesy to use both? I realize France is right nearby, and I am sure people travel between the countries often. I know French used to be the diplomatic language. Almost everyone my parent’s age studied French as a second language here in America if they studied another language, but right about the time I was in high school more and more people were studying Spanish.

So, I was wondering, do most people in the UK speak some French? Is that the most common second language there?

When you call businesses or government agencies and an electronic system answers, is there commonly a choice for English and French? In America many businesses like utilities, or government agencies have an option for Spanish.

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16 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

English and French are the official languages in the Olympics, which is unrelated to the games being in London. The third is the host’s native language. In this case, of course, it is English but was Norwegian, Chinese, Korean, etc in other games.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled I hadn’t realized. So, sometimes they announce in three langauges? Country language, English and French? Am I understanding correctly? Is that what we do in the US? English and French? Or, do we throw in Spanish also when the games are here?

gailcalled's avatar

English, French and English.

French was the official language of the IOC for a long time.

Google “Officla languages of the Olympics.” The history is interesting.

When the games are held in Buenos Aires, then it will be French, English and Spanish.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll look it up. I was googling to see who speaks what around the world, and found this. Not sure how accurate or reliable it is. I found it interesting how many people speak French as a second language. Almost as many as those who speak it as their first.

marinelife's avatar

To answer your original question, no, it is not common in England to also provide French.

downtide's avatar

It’s not common in England to provide French as well, but French is one of the official languages of the Olympics; that’s why it was included in the opening cermony.

gailcalled's avatar

Start brushing up your Portuguese.

JLeslie's avatar

I was actually surprised how many people speak Portuguese when I looked through that link I provided.

harple's avatar

Not common at all, and it was much discussed here after the opening ceremony. It wasn’t overly popular that the French announcement came first, but then it was explained that as the audience would cheer after the English, it just wouldn’t have worked the other way around. Good point, well made.

JLeslie's avatar

@harple Interesting.

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie: The Portuguese were among the European nations who did a lot of colonizing.

The Community of Portuguese Language Countries:

Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe. East Timor joined the community in 2002 after gaining independence.

”...Beginning in the 1400s, the Portuguese, led by famous explorers like Bartolomeo Dias and Vasco de Gama and financed by the great Prince Henry the Navigator, sailed to, explored, and settled in South America, Africa, and Asia. Portugal’s empire, which survived for more than six centuries, was the first of the great European global empires. Its former possessions are now located in across fifty countries around the world.” Source

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled Yeah I know. I just hadn’t realized how large the populations were. Not to mention Brazil is gaining some market share in a variety of businesses and Industries, so Portuguese will be a useful language to know; except that, as it is in most countries many of the people, especially in business, speak English. My husband used to be over/responsible for Brazil in one of his jobs, and I am pretty sure they communicated in English not Spanish. But, I am not 100% sure. I know he considered studying Portuguese. Well, he would come home from Israel and want to learn Hebrew, and come home from Germany and want to learn German, so him wanting to learn a language is no indication of how well the people he interacted with spoke English or Spanish.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yep, that’s a remnant from France’s colonial time. It’s the same for the European song contest. Home country language plus English plus French.

gailcalled's avatar

I remember that one of the four languages used on the little underground shuttle rail at the SF airport was Thai.

MilkyWay's avatar

Although a lot of people don’t speak French in England, it used to be taught in primary schools as a subject. My Dad had to do it when he was in school, but obviously fell out of practice and forgot haha.
The reason French was used in the Olympics though, is as people before me have said. Because it was one of the official Olympic languages.

DeanV's avatar

I was just in London for the past few weeks, and I can safely say no, there is really nothing there in French. As @gailcalled said, those two are merely the official languages of the Olympics regardless of location.

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