Friday, February 24, 2006


As countless tv ads indicate daily, the Japanese study English by the millions (like so many other people around the globe), but compared to other Asian countries, they seem to have little success at it. (Yesterday I saw a document in English from one of the Japanese Government Ministries and the English was a national embarrassment!)

The why of all this has always been somewhat of a mystery. Even well-educated Japanese are rarely fluent in English, which is a surprise to many, especially Americans. The US, though much more of a melting pot, also has never been much of a linguistic contender globally, preferring to coast on linguistic privilege. But monolinguists in English no longer have the global edge they once had. And many US states don't even have a HS language requirement anymore!

As if that weren't bad enough, at the US State Department, only 10 of 34,000 employees are rated fully fluent in Arabic! Right now!

I see a new world composition coming.


Tabor said...

I have a good friend from Japan who got a gradute science degree at the University of Miami. He struggles with pronunciation as well as understanding English...still a great friend.

Robert Brady said...

The two languages are soooo far apart...