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Monolingualism in the UK

This seems to be a week for links on my blog, but I can’t resist posting yet another one to a fantastic article by Agnès Poirier on the decreasing number of Brits studying languages, and offers some observations as to why that might, or might not, be. Here’s a sample:

I don’t know what’s most irritating though: the abyssal linguistic ignorance of the British or their worn-out excuse to justify it, which always comes with a coy smile: “Our nation is simply not good at languages.” I have kept hearing it ever since I set foot in Britain, and I’ll happily throttle the next person who dares say it to me. Linguistic weakness is not a congenital disease; it’s not in your DNA any more than loving Château Haut-Brion 1989 is in mine. Being good at languages only requires political will, state intervention and cultural rigour. In Europe, learning two foreign languages is compulsory; if it wasn’t, we’d all live in a Tower of Babel and be at each other’s throats.

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t agree more.  This article should really be used as an addendum to the petition I told you about in June.

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August 28, 2008

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