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    Could You Repeat That in English? We're Global.

    University administrators in the United States currently have two diametrically opposed habits.

    First, they love to proclaim that their university is becoming more "global." You hear this all the time.

    Second, they tend to cut foreign languages from the curriculum.

    So, for example:

    Strategically located in the state capital of New York, the University at Albany is an internationally recognized public research institution that brings "The World Within Reach" to nearly 18,000 students at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

    But this week the President of SUNY Albany has decided to fix the school's budget programs by cutting French, Italian, Russian, and classics. (Theater, too.) And he told the French department they can't admit any more majors and all of them should look for other jobs.

    The world will still be in reach, but SUNY's students won't be able to read it.

    Eight months back it was the University of Iowa getting rid of German.

    University administrators want to think globally. In English.



    "Where the world comes to speak English." TM

    You call that English?

    O Fortuna! Miser nobis!

    While I totally agree that there's plenty of irony in that situation, I think foreign language education in the US suffers for far more practical reasons: there's no natural way to maintain what little skills you develop in a year or two of college language classes. Languages (for me, at least) don't "stick" unless you, at least occasionally, need to use them in order to buy a loaf bread.  

    Of course, even if you forget every phrase, the exercise of studying a language has significant benefits: better understanding English, awareness of another culture, and improved ability to learn other languages.

    I'm currently living in a country the language of which, completely by coincidence, I studied for a year and half in college (which was over a decade ago).  Did that year and half turn out to be useful now?  Somewhat.  I had forgotten almost everything, but I think it's been easier to learn the second time around.  

    Also, one of the most surprising things I've learned from living in Europe is that English really is a global language.




    There's that pie I owed ya! 

    They probably figure we'll all be speaking Chinese in the future and won't need even English.


    My grandson is studying Chinese in high school and loves it.  But there are thousands of characters to learn.  I just don't see it being a global language because it don't lend itself well to technical terms.    

    Another disqualification of Chinese as a global language is that it's really at least three mutually incomprehensible spoken languages. The written form, being ideogrammatical, helps the Chinese to understand each other, but it's way too complex to appeal to foreigners.

    English, on the other hand, is amazingly flexible. Nouns become verbs or adjectives, and vice versa, in the blink of an eye. Coin a word in your basement computer room, post it, and -- if it catches on -- it's English! Sooo democratic. As a consequence, the vocabulary is maybe 10 times its nearest competitor. English would be a perfect world language, except for its archaic, illogical spelling rules.

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