Sunday, January 08, 2017

Home Truths?

I'm speaking in the broadest of terms, but why is it that the British tend to be so aggressive or at the very least "laddish" in their attitude towards other European countries? Could it be that the default British attitude in fact hides a massive inferiority complex?

I think so. A large part of our bullishness may be explained by the fact that the vast majority of us are quite incapable of speaking a single world in a foreign language. We may laugh off this lamentable state of affairs by insisting that it's up to other countries to learn English but I do not think such a reaction can wholly mask a feeling of inadequacy.

At this point let me say that I do not take any credit for my ability to speak one foreign language. I know full well that had I stayed in England, I would almost certainly never have had either the inclination or the will-power to learn French. The only thing that might conceivably have induced me to do so was a vague feeling of inferiority, of inadequacy, of being at a disadvantage.

I don't know how much credence should be given to the chart provided in the link below but I don't think its findings can be very wide of the mark.

And here in Britain?

I could talk about the factors contributing to this state of affairs, but I prefer to dwell on the consequences, direct or indirect:

  • UK schoolchildren are now less likely to speak a foreign language than those in any other European nation.
  • Just one in 40 British diplomats is fluent in the language of the country where they work with the majority lacking even basic grasp sufficient for day-to-day exchanges.
  • Theresa May, Nigel Farage and David Cameron do not speak a foreign language. How can they not feel at a disadvantage when conversing with their French and German counterparts?


  1. Anonymous11:59 pm

    It is remarkable, though, as a great deal of effort and no doubt money has been given over to teaching languages in our schools. The method must be wrong, I think. Also, for some reason British children think "talkin' furrin" is a huge joke.

  2. I don't think it's a question of "method". If a child is motivated he or she will learn in ANY circumstances. The problem is we're not motivated and we're not motivated because we think it's up to foreigners to speak English.

  3. Anonymous3:56 pm

    So, yes, it's the attitude. But how do British children acquire this fatal dismissive attitude, and not the equally insular French?

  4. After the war, most of the West had to come to terms with defeat and degrees of shame. To our great misfortune (in my opinion) we in Britain and, in particular, the USA, never had to do that. And we're still paying the price.


Can You Hear me Mother?

I'm just going to post this entry without further ado and to do and see what, if anything, comes out in the wash!