Tuesday, February 28, 2006

GLOBAL ENGLISHIFICATION

The other day, I read an article (in The Japan Times, of course) about how the proliferation of English fluency in regions other than the U.K. and the U.S. are beginning to harm the British and American job markets. What started out as a great advantage for Anglophone monoglots is now undermining the competitiveness of workers who a) only speak English and b) live in expensive, "first world" cities. Companies would much rather farm out their work to places like India, where there is no shortage of English-speaking talent, and at a fraction of the cost.

I understand the rationale. As a bilingual and multicultural person, I agree that a lot of people in these wealthy, Western regions seem to be resting on their laurels instead of putting in the effort to learn new skills (like cultural sensitivity, flexibility, or new languages). But - whatever. All of my very chic and intelligent (and mostly monolingual) friends in the U.S. and the U.K. are enjoying great success in great jobs. Those Brits and Americans who are forfeiting their jobs to nationals of other countries probably wouldn't have been able to land those positions anyway - even if they spoke another language and were from another place.

And then I saw this Doritos package:



The trouble isn't that Americans can't speak a second language. It's that they can't speak their only language.

*N.B. In the word "it's", the apostrophe signifies a contraction of the words "it is". This should in no way be confused with an apostrophe signifying possession, as in the example "Mary's". "Your" and "you're" are similar situations, wherein the former is a possessive, while the latter is a contraction for "you are". I don't (do not) say this to be a smartass. I only point this out because it's (it is) easy enough to implement and will very quickly and effectively make you look at least 30% smarter on paper.

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