John Miller over at Real Time Brussels has a funny little post on the popularity of Latin and old-fashioned English phrases in the Eurocrat’s vocabulary. Inter alia is apparently extremely popular in official documents but my favorite has to be the rather less used “proof of the pudding is in the eating.” As the post notes, you have to imagine our 40something Eurocrats learning English thirty years ago, perhaps from dusty old British textbooks or maybe from non-native speakers who might not realize how quaint an expression might be.
Not that idiomatic expressions are a bad thing. Inevitably when everyone is speaking a second language, or going through an interpreter, all these lively phrases – often linked to cultural references, historical events or sporting traditions – tend to be completely absent. The result can be excruciatingly dry.