Babel-like EU, with its 23 official languages and over 40 regional tongues, on Thursday marked an upcoming "European Day of Languages" with a speech delivered essentially in English.

The European Commission spokesman announcing Sunday's ode to multilingualism - highlighting the benefits of languages for small businesses - kicked off his speech in English, but on hearing sighs at a media briefing peopled by many nationalities tried his hand at other tongues.

His go at German, French, Spanish, Italian and Polish won applause for a good try but grins for below-par pronunciation.

Likewise the statement announcing the multilingual celebration was posted in all European Union languages but the calendar only in English.