RE: Off topic: language death in the US

From: Marco Cimarosti (
Date: Thu Mar 15 2001 - 05:23:18 EST

Well, one wonders: could that president's madness possibly hide some

Also here in Europe (well, in Italy, I can't speak about other countries) a
faculty of languages is the last place where you hope to learn a foreign

Most language departments here simply don't consider teaching the language
their task -- especially for best-known language such as English, German,
French, Spanish.

Among the horror stories that circulate is the one which says that American
and British students normally don't pass their English language
examinations. They are not required to talk or write in English, but rather
to answer questions in *Italian* about grammar and literature -- and they do
not master well enough the Italian terminology for English grammar, or the
position of Italian scholars about English literature...

A friend of mine, student of German in the university of Milan, was told by
her professor: "So you want to learn German? Why did you get the faculty of
German if you can't speak the language? Anyway, you could buy one of those
books with cassettes, you know those things used in business language

She thus took the faculty of Danish, because she was told that professors of
lesser-known languages often do not assume that you are already fluent. And,
in fact, her new faculty was more focused on the Danish language than on
literature. But she quitted anyway next year in despair, leaving me as a
gift her main textbook "Phonological Aspects in Danish Dialectology". A
wonderful book for a linguist or for one who wants to play

She now speaks a decent Danish (she spent a year in Denmark as a waitress)
and an excellent German (as she worked several years in Berlin as a

_ Marco

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