The Linguist

The Linguist 53,1

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 28 of 35

Vol/53 No/1 2014 FEBrUArY/MArch The Linguist 29 OPINION & COMMENT More on going local abroad i read paul Guest's letter 'Me defiendo en español' (TL52,4) while sitting in a cafe on Las ramblas in Barcelona. it struck an immediate chord because i had just placed my order in Spanish only to receive a reply in English – the very scenario he describes. What was particulary odd was that i had come directly from Barcelona station where i had successfully held my own in Spanish in a blazing row with no less than four renfe employees who obstinately claimed that there was no such thing as a billete múltiple (three-leg return ticket) for AvE (high-speed train). Being replied to in English when you can speak the local language perfectly well is a common nuisance and it has nothing to do with fluency or accent. it also has nothing to do with politeness since, as Martin Weston rightly observes (TL52,6), it is actually rather rude. i do not claim to fully understand what is behind it nor do i have a failsafe counter-measure. the phenomenon is clearly on the increase (it did not happen to me once in the 1970s or 1980s) but i hesitate to put it down simply to the use of English as a lingua franca: a lingua franca is there to solve a communicative problem not to create one where none exists. one strategy i sometimes use is to change language myself (in Spain i switch to German). i then take advantage of the nonplussed reaction to offer a choice of languages (Spanish or German): the response is predictable. Peter Butler MCIL Mixing names and numbers in the threlford Lecture report (TL52,6), 'Speaking for Europe', it was not Nye Bevan who was the Foreign Secretary who made the comment about the EcSc and the durham miners but herbert Morrison. Bevan was never Foreign Secretary but that's not the interesting thing. Morrison may have been somewhat Eurosceptic in 1951 but, just over half a century later, his grandson peter Mandelson became the EU trade commissioner. in the sport section of the quiz, the answers have been reversed. Number one should be Gareth Bale and number two should be romelu Lukaku. incidentally, Bale cost real Madrid €100 million and not the €1 million stated. You don't get much for €1 million in the world of football these days. Ian Kinloch ACIL the lifting of immigration controls on Bulgarians and romanians on 1 January 2014 prompted a number of articles in local papers (This is Lancashire, Stoke Sentinel) on the 'surge' of pupils from Eastern Europe putting a strain on schools, requiring them to hire more translators and EAL (English as an additional language) staff. Meanwhile, Leo Mckinstry, writing in The Express, described Sheffield as a 'multicultural hell- hole' and complained that 'real integration is impossible when ethnic groups are encouraged to cling to customs, practices, even languages from their homeland'. on a more positive note, among the 'Forces heroes' honoured for their bravery was royal Marine captain owen davis, who speaks six languages including pashto. having learnt the latter, he was able to live and work closely with Afghan officers and won an award for 'conspicuous gallantry'. however, Wales Online provided a much less glowing picture of Welsh passion for languages with its report that foreign language study had fallen by half in seven years and that it was no longer possible to study languages such as Arabic, chinese and Japanese in Wales. As 2013 drew to an end, The Guardian provided a useful round-up of the top 10 language stories during the year, which included the census finding that polish has become England's second language, the Fco reopening its language centre, Arsène Wenger being voted the paper's Language champion, and a bigger than usual crop of stories on the fall-out from languages in schools and universities. But the language-related story of the season was undoubtedly the 'fake' sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's funeral, whose inept gesturing ruined the occasion for deaf viewers, caused hilarity on social networks, and brought it home to all of us how important it is to manage language services professionally – especially when the world's media are watching. Teresa Tinsley is Director of Alcantara Communications; TERESA TINSLEY Email with your views DEBUT: Gareth Bale p ABLo M orqUEcho , 2/9/13 viA W ikipEdiA (cc BY 2.0) © i S tockphoto

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