My Life is More Interesting Than Yours

And I'm willing to fight about it

The language problem March 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — lizzietish81 @ 9:47 pm
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One of the major problems I have with my fellow country men is the stubborn refusal to learn other languages. From signs declaring that English be required to be even noticed to outrage at having to press a 1 for English, there is a vehement resistance to learning another language.

Personally, I speak English and high school French. I have tried occasionally to learn Spanish and Mandarin via apps and online tutors, but have not had anything stick. It’s therefore rather frustrating to hear my more worldly friends bounce effortlessly between English, German, Japanese, Russian and Latin. Many of them are able to do this because they grew up with multiple languages and are able to achieve a level of fluency I can only dream about.

Indeed one of the secrets to language is to be able to think in that language instead of mentally translating back and forth. In other countries this kind of verbal flexibility is encouraged. A coworker from India told me that she was expected to learn her national language, her local dialect and English. Such a thing is unthinkable in America. Learning a language other than English is never required, at best it is optional.

This arrogant refusal to require other languages is hurting us. In an increasingly connected world, we expect others to adapt to us, while we make to real effort to adapt ourselves. That may have flown in the old days, but English speakers aren’t ruling the world anymore, and our refusal to expand our minds is going to hurt in the long run.