Re: [langue-fr] L'anglais est-il une langue universelle ?

From: Elliotte Rusty Harold (
Date: Sat Dec 30 2000 - 08:54:13 EST

At 7:23 PM -0800 12/29/00, Patrick Andries wrote:

>However, the questions -- as I see them -- are : should they all speak
>only English as a foreign language, why do they learn only one foreign
>language (just next to them there are 100 millions native German

If people have the interest, time, and resources to learn more
languages, that's great; but I certainly don't think it should be
expected or required. Learning a language is a major undertaking, and
there are other things in life besides languages. Just where and when
are people supposed to learn them? School curricula are quite crowded
already. Every extra language you add is less time for math or
history or science or the native language. And where do you find the
teachers for all these extra languages?

Perhaps people can learn extra languages as adults, but we all have
jobs, families, politics, volunteer work, and many other important
commitments. I think universal bilingualism is the best we can hope
for, and substantially better than what exists today.

By the way, I can't speak for the rest of Scandinavia, but Denmark at
least does have a large number of fluent German speakers,
particularly in south Jutland where they receive German TV.

>The world is definitively multilingual (about everybody speaks more than one
>language, often three -- this approximation holds true to a few percentage
>points) but that does not mean the world is always speaking English and
>another language... It is this simplistic vision that many people condemn.

I'd like to see that claim backed up a little. You're coming from
Canada, and Quebec in particular, which is possibly the most
universally bilingual place in the Americas. And yet the claim has
been made in this thread that even there 70% of the population can't
speak English well enough to carry on a simple phone call. (I'm not
sure I believe that statistic either, though. It's certainly not my
experience of Quebec where so far I've met exactly one person whose
English was worse than my French, and he was a recent immigrant from

Certainly the world does not always speak just English and another
language. Often they're speaking just English, or just Spanish, or
just Mandarin, or just Yanomamo, or just whatever their native
language is. If they do speak two languages, then I'm saying we
should be glad of that, and focus on the ones who don't speak a
second language at all. Trilingualism and more is I'm afraid just too
much to ask of most people who aren't full-time language
professionals or naturally gifted with languages.


+-----------------------+------------------------+-------------------+ | Elliotte Rusty Harold | | Writer/Programmer | +-----------------------+------------------------+-------------------+ | The XML Bible (IDG Books, 1999) | | | | | +----------------------------------+---------------------------------+ | Read Cafe au Lait for Java news: | | Read Cafe con Leche for XML news: | +----------------------------------+---------------------------------+

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:17 EDT