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The British and Foreign Languages

A recent EU survey found that of British adults of working-age only 11.5 percent said they were proficient in a foreign language. The results are worse when we consider that these figures will include British nationals who had a foreign language at home.

However, are the results a sign of laziness or lack of the need to speak another language?

Laziness will always play a part. If learning languages was as easy as Keanu Reeves learned King Fu in the film ‘The Matrix’ we would all be adding new languages for every requirement. The struggle to overcome the difficulty in learning a new language has to be driven by either passion for languages or a necessity to use the language. Let’s consider ‘necessity’.

Borders – Great Britain is surrounded by the sea and this geological border is between us and speakers of other languages. In Europe a person will be only a car journey away from another language and that journey might be only a few minutes. Certainly those in border towns tend to speak both languages.

English is an International Language – When a British person goes on holiday he will normally find that people can easily assist him in English and English translations will exist for most of the things he needs, including an English translation for tour guides. Not all the translations the British tourist faces will have been made by a professional translation agency and so the quality of these translations will vary.

TV – Either a great film of TV series will be remade in English or it will automatically be dubbed or subtitles. The former is more normal.

Trade – English is a key business language and so trade normally offers an English option.

In summary, more British people would speak another language if it were necessary for them to do so.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 at 9:37 am and is filed under Language Translation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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