The 24 EU languages as seen by their speakers

If you thought Danish is all about hygge, wait till you hear from where English gets its dramatic flair! This and more language quirks from our translators.

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Working in a place where anyone you bump into is likely to speak five or six foreign languages is as mind-blowing as it is humbling. The translation department of the European Commission is a language haven, with our translators making sure EU citizens can read important texts in all 24 official EU languages. Any linguistic issue linked to that work — however small or insignificant it may seem — will be pored over by these committed language lovers. They know words matter. As do the commas, prepositions and cases we use every day as part of the living cultural heritage that is language.

We asked our erudite polyglots to share something about their native language and its history, and this is what they gave us!

Bulgarian: not like other Slavic tongues

Croatian: a delight for linguists?

Czech: a tough language

Danish: a thousand years of hygge?

Dutch: standing on its own two feet

English: the untameable language

Estonian: cultural heritage of a 100-year-old nation

Finnish: the odd one out

French comes from Latin, but where is it going?

German: easy as pie

Greek: a journey through the ages

Hungarian: a peculiar language

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Language, culture and identity. ©Creative Commons, Source: Europeana

Irish: listening to the past, looking forwards

Italian: like music to your ears

Latvian: are you flexible enough?

Lithuanian: both old and young

Maltese: from survival to revival

Polish: an affectionate language

Portuguese and the Arabic heritage

Romanian: a bit of everything

Slovak: language of the people

Slovenian: two for the price of one

Spanish: a standard born out of translation

Swedish: Viking heritage

This article is a collaboration with our Directorate-General for Translation.

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