By Tilman-Otto WAGNER /

People first arrived in America from Eurasia a minimum of 12,000 years ago and became what we nowadays call the Native Americans. The first European to land in North America nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus, was to be the Norse explorer Leif Ericson (970–1020). According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, tentatively identified with the NorseL’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada. In the 1400s Europeans re-discovered America and began exploring South America and islands off its coast. Spaniards were the first to settle in the new land, later arrived the English, Dutch, French and Swedish. With the colonization of the East Coast by the British and Dutch around 1600 began the process of European missionary work on the New Continent in matters of politics, economy, culture, and most of all, spoken and written language. In the same way as the Germanic invaders/settlers brought centuries ago the Anglo-Frisian dialects to Britain, from which the West Germanic languages including English originate, the new European settlers were to establish English speaking communities first on the East Coast and later all around the American continent. Beginning with the late 17th century we witness the evolvement of Modern English, which we speak down to the present day.

Along with these permanent migration movements, that become more and more outspread and hastened in the early 21st century with the seize of new economic areas by the profit-oriented entrepreneurs and business people, Europeans seem to be unpleasantly surprised by the latest eco-political developments in the USA. The resource-conserving European economy and environment protective culture is interfering with the war-driven US-economy, uncoupling a clash of interests. Hence, the European mercantile tradition has got to unchain its historical paradigms and enable a transatlantic free-trade area for all its like-minded trading partners in the USA. Cultural exchange and fair trade can only work in a smooth way if both continents and countries overcome the colonialist prejudices and embark upon a common future vision and interaction based on the most important of all tools of communication – language.

Since few people have the time to learn more than one or two foreign languages, we need a single lingua franca that everybody can use with everybody else. The choice has fallen on English not because it is more beautiful or more expressive, but just because it is already more widespread than any other language.

As the lingua franca in the world today, English can serve as a Euro-American mental space and air bridge for the purpose of improving the relations between these two continents of the world. With over 2 billion speakers of English as both a native language (ENL) and a foreign language (EFL) worldwide, we face the beginning of a new cultural awareness which emphasizes that English is dominating all areas of modern life: creative industries (movies, theatre and TV,  music, fine arts, literature, criticism etc.), information technology (computer game industry, animation) and economy, science (esp. medicine, law, economy, genetics, space exploration etc.), sports, education, politics or spiritual matters. Especially with the increase of the internet culture with all its ambiguous opportunities, and the online communication networks (social media, blogs, chat rooms, online archives, hacker platforms etc.) interconnecting worldwide, English serves as the most efficient tool for communication. Both the information technology and online data processing are based on English. Within all different forms of audio-visual media, English offers by virtue of its simple grammatical structure the ideal source language.

Regarding the education system, English is still the main second language (EFL) taught and learned at compulsory school level in big parts of Europe. Among the approx. 280 million speakers of it, English (ENL & EFL) is particularly in Western and Northern Europe an important interlanguage and working language. There are about 65 million native speakers of English living in Europe today. At least since the Bologna Process, long-term effects are visible in both primal/compulsory and higher education all around Europe. The pragmatic rejig and contraction of the education system brings along a reduction in quality and a production of one-track specialists, uninterested in what goes around them. Especially information technology and economy seem to be the new booming branches in both European and American societies, whose citizens depart more and more from the concept of a classical all-round education. The long-term effect of this regression is going to be a radical split-up of society into a vast number of interest groups controlled and moneypulated by corporate America and transnational companies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

We can thank both sides of the Atlantic for outstanding contributions to English-speaking cinema and literature. Throughout time, Europe has come to regard cinema and literature as art forms, even to this day. If you surf the internet in Europe, they are both usually listed underart & culture, in America they are listed under entertainment. Filmmakers, like Len Lye, Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin, Maya Deren, Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Greenaway, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch,  Michael Winterbottom, Danny Boyle, Terry Gilliam, Stanley Kubrick, Kenneth Branagh, Guy Ritchie or Darren Aronofsky created authentic and unique movies, which carry on the cultural heritage of the English-speaking community both in Europe and the USA. Europeans continue to push cinema forward as an art form. On the other side of the Atlantic it is equally important to remember that cinema is an art form and must keep its creative autonomy and freedom of expression at all times. The English-speaking literature acquired special renown through the highest number of Nobel Prize winners (25) from all different parts of the English-speaking world: Rudyard Kipling, William Butler Yeats, George Bernhard Shaw, Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O’Neill, Pearl S. Buck, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Samuel Beckett, Toni Morrison, to name but a few. They all contributed to the preservation of the anglophone spoken and written language and made English the most accessible tongue for the enthusiasts of literature worldwide.

In the near future, English will probably advance more and more to the main world language with Europe and the USA interacting on a global level throughout all areas of life. The internet culture is going to extend this evolution and establish English as the primary working and communication language, enlarging the English-speaking community all around the world. It remains to be seen whether this precious cultural heritage will still be connected so intensively to its mother countries in the future, or rather be detached from them by immigration, mass media and virtual interconnectivity.



Jean-Jacques Annaud (FRA): Seven Years in Tibet, 1997, USA

Michelangelo Antonioni (ITA): Zabriskie Point, 1970, USA

Charles Chaplin (UK/USA): The Great Dictator, 1940, USA

Maya Deren (UKR/USA): Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943, USA

Alfred Hitchcock (UK/USA): Psycho, 1960, USA

Fritz Lang (AUT/USA): Hangmen Also Die!, 1943, USA

David Lynch (USA): Inland Empire, 2006, FRA/POL/USA

Jonas Mekas (LIT/USA): As I Was Moving Ahead, Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty, 2000, USA

Roman Polanski (POL/FRA): Frantic, 1988, USA/FRA

Roman Polanski (POL/FRA): The Ghost Writer, 2010, FRA/GER/UK

Wim Wenders (GER): Der Stand der Dinge/The Stand of Things, 1982, USA/GER/POR

Michael Winterbottom (UK/USA): A Mighty Heart, 2007, UK/USA/IND



Hannah Arendt: The Human Condition, University Press, Chicago, 1958

Bertolt Brecht: The Threepenny Opera, The Penguin Group, New York, 2007

Pellegrino D’Acierno (Editor): The Italian American Heritage: a Companion to Literature and Arts, Garland Pub., New York, 1999

Mircea Eliade: The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, San Diego, 1987

Jerzy Nikodem Kosinski: The Painted Bird, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1965

Peter Lev: The Euro-American Cinema (Texas Film Studies Series), University of Texas Press, Austin, 1993

Frank McCourt: Angela’s Ashes , Scribner, New York, 1996

Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1955

Isaac Bashevis Singer: Lost in America, Doubleday & Comp., New York, 1981

Gertrude Stein: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1933

Robert E. Ward: A Bio-Bibliography of German-American Writers, 1670-1970. White Plains, New York: Kraus, 1985



How Europe Sees America: Our Survey on Attitudes About U.S. Cultural and Political Influence, EUROPE NEWS, June 19th, 2009

European Versus American Storytelling: The Case of The Third ManP:O.V. No.12 – Comparing American and European Cinema, January 3rd, 2010

Please: No More Gutted US Remakes of European Films!, THE GUARDIAN, February 23rd, 2010


March 2013, Vienna (Austria)

0.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 15,390 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 11,285 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 9,520 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 8,803 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Gil Scott-Heron Deconstructs Colonialism and Black History in His Own Unique Style
3 min · 7,275 views today · His-Story: I was wondering about our yesterdays, and starting searching through the rubble and to say the very least, somebody went to a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure...
Anarchists - What We Stand For
unknown · 6,743 views today · Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a political philosophy, anarchism is based on the idea that organization does not require rulers—that...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 3,670 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 3,554 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 3,463 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
Lessons in the Calais Jungle: Teaching Life Stories and Learning About Humanity
Aura Lounasmaa · 1,833 views today · I am part of a team of academics teaching a course to residents in the Calais Jungle, a camp for migrants and refugees outside the French city. Life Stories in the Jungle has...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,674 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
My Cuba - An Intimate Look at the Pleasures and Struggles of 6 Different People's Cuba
150 min · 1,400 views today · Cuba - diverse, vibrant and complex - is undergoing immense change. But what does it mean to be Cuban in this time of change? Six people. Six films. From the comedy and ballet...
Our Obsession With 'Good Immigrants' Breeds Intolerance
2 min · 1,179 views today · Society sets the bar so high to become a 'good immigrant', argues writer Nikesh Shukla, that normal immigrants are demonised. He says non-Brits in the public eye have a simple...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,054 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 943 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
Bird Watching on Lesvos Island - A Poetic Call to Stand With Refugees
3 min · 648 views today · Born in Darfur, Sudan and raised in Philadelphia, Emi Mahmoud is the 2015 World Poetry Slam Champion and the Women of the World co-Champion of 2016. From a young age Emi...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 578 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 574 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 407 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
World's Low-Cost Economy Built on the Backs of 46 Million Modern Day Slaves
Deirdre Fulton · 398 views today · 'Business leaders who refuse to look into the realities of their own supply chains are misguided and irresponsible.'
Load More
Like us on Facebook?