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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Unpolitically correct observation

Pam from Nerd's Eye View writes a post on BlogHer where she recounts an old joke:

What do you call someone who speaks lots of langauges: Multilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks two langagues? Bilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks only one? American.

In a post on her own blog she charts the languages of the people round the lunch table - the combination of people, nationalities and languages, including a yoghurt container written in a language that none of them spoke.

I thought of it last night as I sat at a "Portuguese" dinner table where F on my right has a Portuguese name and passport but speaks English as her first language and was born and brought up in Rhodesia. M on my left was born with Portuguese nationality, his first language is Portuguese but has opted for a British passport. He was married to the woman born in France, bilingual in French and Portuguese. Next to him was K, British retired - just finished doing proficiency level Portuguese at Universidade de Lisboa and married to A who is Portuguese living in Brussels and speaks Portuguese, French and English...

And it occured to me as I thought of some of my dear work colleagues still debating the Bolonha process and whether or not a second language other than Spanish is important ...
What's a Portuguese doing who thinks that being bilingual in Spanish is enough to participate in the international business and academic community?

Answer: Missing the action!


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6 Comments:

Blogger Harry said...

Your "Going International" post seems to have disappeared!

Even though the Brits are known to be very self-centered, the question of "best second language" for a non-english speaker is a no-brainer. Maybe that says something about the decision takers.

To be even less politically correct, try "What do you call someone who speaks only one? Spanish".

Please feel free to moderate me, if necessary.

2/14/2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Oh ... something weird going on with all my posts!

Yes, I guess that's why we should all learn to speak Spanish :-)

2/14/2006 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Reduce the number of language teachers as follows:

Business Spanish - Lesson 1 of 1

How to hold a meeting with a Spaniard:

1. Greet him in English
2. Acknowledge look of panic
3. Agree to hold the meeting in slow Portuguese from you, slow Spanish from him

It has always worked for me

2/14/2006 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

I'll suggest that!

2/14/2006 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

There's somethig burning your brain...

4/04/2006 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

By the way... Did you know that Portugues and Spanish people divided the worl in two, 500 years ago, before America's descovery??... huuummm...

4/04/2006 05:44:00 PM  

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