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take the free linguistic ride

to friend, befriend or to unfriend, this is the question

The Word of the Year, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is the verb “to unfriend”: “Unfriend: To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”

Making a friend used to be a life-changing experience, it took time, patience, compromise, it was a learning experience for which none of us has time now. We click now. One, two, ten, a hundred friends in a day. But who’s counting… They are all there, in your friends list: kindergarden friends, primary school friends, uni friends, friends of your friends, friends of ex-girlfriends. And you can finally keep a friendly eye on them all. And when you get bored, click “unfriend” and start again, it’s easy game.



November 17, 2009 Posted by | language policy and planning, personal | Leave a comment

languages for jobs

With the economic crisis in the spotlight, job-seekers are said to have an advantage if they master foreign languages. Nothing new so far, the European Commission has played this tune for some years now trying to influence more and more Europeans to learn other languages by linking financial comfort to multilingualism. I’ve seen the shift from multilingualism-for-cultural-understanding to multilingualism-for-money-making in recent years, which is not necessarily a bad PR campaign. The only downside is that this approach favours English once again and there is less incentive to learn other European languages when money is in play.

The Hamburg Express uses some well-known European statistics to promote English language learning, but there are so many missing elements in the picture: we learn languages because it’s fun, it’s challenging and rewarding, and we learn so much about ourselves on the way. If we only see language learning as an investment in financial terms, we’ll soon go blind.

July 7, 2009 Posted by | applied linguistics, education, language policy and planning | 1 Comment

Self-governing Greenland and Kalaallisut – official language

Can symbolic changes lead to profound transformations? Some say a foot in the door is the way to go, and Greenland is having its say: from Sunday it has a new official language – Kalaallisut, a traditional Inuit dialect. Plus Greenlanders are now internationally recognised as different from Danes and Greenlandic government calls itself Naalakkersuisut.

Is the change necessary, some wonder. Is Greenland self-sufficient? It seems that there are some more urgent matters that Greenlanders need to address (unemployment, domestic violence, poor infrastructure or dealing with obvious icecap melting), so why should people care about language in such hard times?

Because some things remain as important as always: (national) pride, confidence, choosing your own destiny, self-determination and independence.

June 23, 2009 Posted by | language policy and planning | Leave a comment