Brexit Britain cannot afford to be laissez-faire about its languages crisis
Of course it can't. A post-Brexit exporter won't get very far by talking English slowly and in a loud voice, or by using home-grown machine-translated customer-facing materials such as this:
|Customer misguidance originally shared on Facebook.|
I've belatedly realized that the fault wasn't all machine-translation's: it's the unholy alliance of Optical Character Recognition and machine-translation, leaping from disculpen to discuss via a misread discuten. Or maybe it was just a tired monoglot restaurateur jumping from disculpar to discutir in a dictionary.
Over the centuries, we Britons have come to believe that we are naturally proficient – exceptional, even – in certain pursuits. These include engineering, literature, the classics, pop music, geography and football...
But it is instructive, when thinking about the UK and Britishness and what might lie in store for us in the future, to consider the pursuits about which we do not feel so confiden, t. Of these, by far the most significant – and the most worrying – ' other languages.
But another tweet via the same source underlined the short-sighted idiocy of the government's decision to make languages optional after year 9 (or what we used to know as the third year):
To quote a BBC article published in January 2011:
The requirement for teenagers to take a language at GCSE was ended by the last Labour government in 2004. It led to a massive slump in the numbers taking languages.Back then it seemed as though some reversal of this obscurantist decision was on the cards.
L‘EnvoiBut in a more recent article (February 2019) the BBC quoted Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director for business group the CBI.
"Employer demand for French, German and Spanish skills have significantly increased over the last few years.
"The decline in language learning in schools must be reversed, or else the UK will be less competitive globally and young people less prepared for the modern world.
"As well as speaking a foreign language, increasing young people's cultural awareness and their ability to work with people from around the world is just as important."But I must get on.
Update: 2019.12.20.15:10 – Added inline PS