Letter: Ring in the "new"

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The Independent Online
From Mr Bernard Noble

Sir: Since people in Europe are so attached to their currency names, I do not see why they should not be allowed to keep them, when a single currency is achieved, with the simple prefix - for a time - of the word "new". After all, the British soon got used to new pence, and if the French had far more trouble with their nouveaux francs, it was only because each was worth exactly 100 old ones. This time, they could introduce the franc neuf, which would be identical with the Belgian and Luxembourg franc neuf, the neue mark, the nieuwe gulden, the peseta nueva and the new pound, etc. A common symbol for the currency could just be "n". Dealers would work out their own jargon, as they always do.

Given the autonomy of languages, which permits us not to call Germany Deutschland, there is in any case no compelling reason to suppress a diversity which already exists in relation to identical currencies, since a pound is also a livre, a pond, a lira inglese; a gulden is a guilder and a florin; a krone a crown or couronne.

Noting the kindly offer of the Dutch to call the new currency the florin (which they would surely write florijn), I recall wistfully that some 30 years ago the Dutch florin (ie, guilder) was worth exactly the same as the British one. I hope to see the day when such financial - not linguistic - simplicity is restored.

Yours faithfully,


The Hague