The Linguist

The Linguist 56,5 – October/November 2017

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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28 The Linguist Vol/56 No/5 2017 OPINION & COMMENT Email with your views David Crystal writes about the emergence of Euro-English and how, within the European Union, this will evolve into a family of Euro-English dialects post Brexit ('Englexit or Englentrance?', TL56,4). He notes, through conflation of statistics, that most countries, both within and outside the EU, have significantly increased the education of their population and their use of English in recent years. At first sight this might appear helpful for UK mother-tongue English speakers in the potentially isolating world post Brexit. I believe there is a risk, however, that this could increase the separation of the UK from the rest of the world. This is already happening. I offer you an interpreter's eye view. Imagine a meeting where speakers (some non-native) are all addressing a meeting in English. There may be several delegates listening, through headphones, to interpreters working in a number of different language booths, and other delegates listening to the speaker through English as their second language. The only people in the room not apparently required to make any special effort are the native English speakers, including Irish and Scottish participants. It is already true that the English being spoken in a mixed-language environment such as this is, in fact, an adapted version – adapted by the users among themselves. The English spoken in the UK in 2017 is, in many ways, not the English spoken by anyone else in the world. If we accept Dr Crystal's vision of the development of varieties of Euro-English – not to mention the English spoken already by and between Africans, Indians and Asians – monolingual British speakers of English need to be alert to this situation if we are to avoid cultural misunderstandings and, in my opinion, missed economic opportunities. It will be increasingly necessary for this group of English speakers to adjust their speech to ensure smooth relations with others who already seek and find common ground in the English they use as a second language. Another way to raise awareness of this situation, and prevent the slide of British English into the level of a dialect, is for monolingual speakers to extend their own experience in the learning and practice of a second language. When we speak more than one language, the brain is more healthy and agile, and can accept more and varied ways of seeing and managing the world around us. We also hold back the development of age-related diseases such as dementia, and hence reduce the health bill for the nation. Susie Kershaw FCIL STAR LETTER The Linguist has made great progress over the years, and the current edition is full of interest and information of practical use to many CIOL members. I was particularly interested to read David Crystal's article. As a former Representative of the European Commission in the UK, it is clear that well- formed contributions to the debate are crucial. The debate is only just beginning and it is important to ensure that the Government takes into consideration all aspects of the issue. CIOL clearly has a role to play in this. The UK will have an increasing role in interpretation and translation, not least as Africa doubles in size over the next 30 years, and because of the growing number of UK citizens who are bilingual in English and another language. There is much to do in encouraging young people in the UK to take on a serious study of languages. CIOL has an important role in convincing uni-language politicians of the increased work opportunities provided by languages. So many qualified aspirants for global jobs are put at a disadvantage when competing with those who are sufficiently fluent to do business in two or three languages. Professor John Drew, Regent's University I was puzzled by Dr Crystal feeling the need to contemplate that English might lose its international status because of Little Englanders having an (I believe only temporary) advantage over the Scots, Northern Irish and other Remainers. The professor did not really take Jean-Claude Juncker's recent quip about English losing importance in Europe too seriously? English is such a well-established tool of international trade that it cannot be dispensed with and, indeed, nobody is advocating this, especially not in the world's largest trading nations. English has an international meta- function similar to, say, Microsoft Office or DIN norms. That function will never change – why should it? Indeed, China is copying Germany's century-old policy on languages and has made English compulsory in many school and university contexts. Nearly 9 million of Germany's 11 million pupils in secondary and vocational education take English; English is also a minor subject in many degrees. Tom Martini MCIL More on English post Brexit © SHUTTERSTOCK

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