The Linguist

The Linguist 55,4

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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26 The Linguist Vol/55 No/4 2016 OPINION & COMMENT the Queen in Through the Looking-Glass said to alice, "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." her words sprang vividly to mind when I awoke, long before breakfast-time, on 24 June to the news that the uk had voted to leave the european union. In fact, believing the frankly implausible seemed to be what campaigners were asking of voters from the very start. every family £4,300 better off outside the eu? an extra £350 million for the health service? Wild claims about immigration and recession? Voters found it hard to know who to believe in a so-called 'post-fact' world. such rampant implausibility has now given way to enormous uncertainty. some in the languages industry are aligning themselves with the pre-vote economic doomsayers, predicting dire consequences for the sector. surveys have shown that a large majority of language service providers would have preferred to remain in the eu. Freedom of movement and freedom to do business within the eu are surely top of the list of concerns for language professionals. the uk government has been unable to provide concrete reassurances, but some among the victorious 'Leave' camp have made conciliatory noises about retaining access to the single market and even continuing to allow a degree of freedom of movement. Whether the eu will allow this remains to be seen. uk-based linguists travelling and working within the eu, and language professionals from other eu countries based in the uk, wait with bated breath to find out whether Brexit will negatively impact their business. Will european companies move out of the uk? Will restrictions be placed on living and working in europe (or in the uk, for non-uk nationals)? Will trade barriers be put in place? as one recent contributor to The Linguist put it, "more paperwork is never good news". We may have to wait some time before finding out the answers (oh, the irony of a Brexit vote leading to so much to-ing and fro-ing between Brussels and London at taxpayers' expense). the impact of this uncertainty was detectable to some industry observers even before the referendum, and may already be having a negative impact on language-related business. there may also be some concern about future language teaching policy. Will a uk outside the eu lavish funding on modern foreign languages learning? or will previously unpopular languages come to the fore as the country seeks to increase trade in non-european markets? Lewis carroll's Queen might have cackled grimly at the conundrum apparently facing uk-based language professionals. she may even have included a new item in her pre- breakfast list of Impossible things to Believe: the country that voted to make it harder for itself to do business. I like to think that, like me, she would also have placed language professionals' vital ongoing role in fostering international cooperation and understanding right at the top of her post-breakfast list of things We Firmly Believe In. The referendum was held just before this issue went to press. A more detailed analysis will appear in subsequent issues. BREXIT: what next? How linguists might be affected by the UK leaving the EU KEN PAVER Ken Paver MCIL is a UK-based freelance interpreter and translator, and Chair of The Linguist Editorial Board. TL Images: © shutterstock

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