The personal adoptive language (PAL) would be a "second mother tongue, learned intensively and spoken and written fluently" rather than a foreign language, said Jacques De Decker of the Belgian Royal Academy of French Language and Literature, a member of the group of intellectuals whose report first mooted the idea (EurActiv 31/01/08).
If enough people learn PALs then "bilateral relations between EU peoples" could take place in the language of both interlocutors, De Decker said. Ad-hoc interpreting by a third party may eliminate the need to communicate via a third language, he claimed. Meanwhile, PALs would become "an integral part of educational and occupational training," he added.
The personal adoptive language idea received a warm welcome from the academic world. EU-funded study grants could be introduced to allow people to study PALs abroad and generate interest in language-learning among individuals, suggested Stefania Giannini of the University for Foreigners of Perugia.
But others were less optimistic about its chances of success. "The practical side of things" would have to be explored further if the proposal is to be made to work, stressed An Le Nouail Marlière of the European Economic and Social Committee. She questioned whether people would actually need the languages they have learned in practice and warned that if workers were going to take up the idea then trade unions would need to be made aware of it first.
Meanwhile, a Slovenian government representative stressed the importance of incorporating the PAL idea into the Commission's new language strategy, due to be published in September this year.