I spent the week in the European Parliament, attending a panel arranged by EUObserver and generally getting to know the surface of the formal and informal procedures of Parliament.
I had really not paid much attention to our MEP’s words, who said “the official language of Brussels is Eurogibberish. There are so many people from all over it’s all a melting pot.”
Rather, I was very proud to get to make some use of my high-school French. It took a day or two to come back, but there it was.
Je prend aussi le plat du jour, s’il vous plaît. Qu’est-ce que vous servez comme entrée?
Also, I quickly realized that language was sort of location dependent. At a tex-mex taco bar, Spanish worked fine.
Señor? Más salsa, por favor? Y un grande cerveza?
The coffee bars looked quite Italian. Turned out not just French, but Italian worked fine.
Un doppio, per favore.
At this point, I remembered the words of our MEP that pretty much anything that sounds European enough probably works, and realized he’s probably right. I felt kind of stupid after having been so proud over managing in several different languages in the major European metropolitan, all depending on context. And then it just turned out that nobody cares what you say, but figure out what you want anyway, through some kind of osmosis. But sure enough. I got sloppier and sloppier with my wording, and somehow — magically — I always got what I wanted.
Un plopp å Expressen, silleplatt.
Sure enough, I got a double espresso.
It’s a little bit like when I was in my teens and Mad Cow Disease was everywhere on the news, and we’d all go into a McDonald’s and order “a large spongiform encefalopathy, please” just to see what we were served. Except, unlike the encefalopathy, Brussels Eurogibberish actually works.