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English First. Not English Only.

Publicerad: 3 December 2018, 12:52

"Though keeping Swedish around as a second language will ensure the integrity of our cultural values sufficiently well. Especially in the light of the enormous benefits of switching our main language to English.", skriver Walter Naeslund i ett svar på Christian Ernhedes kritik.


I got a response from Christian Ernhede to my article where I argued that we should switch to English as the official language of Sweden. First, I would like to thank you Christian for engaging in what I think is an important debate. It's about time we had a serious discussion about this. I don't know what I wrote that made you feel that I was joking, but I assure you, that was never my intention.

You do have a point that we often speak in English in international contexts rather than using interpreters, but I would not attribute that to us not wanting to dominate people, but instead that we are practical and efficient. It is practical and efficient to speak in a common language, and it does raise the quality of our communication with the world when we can communicate first hand without using interpreters.

I hope I'm not misreading you here, but from what I understand, you then argue the benefits of being able to communicate with the French in French, with the Germans in German and so on. I have never argued against that. On the contrary actually. My argument is that it is not only better to communicate in English than in Swedish internationally (which should be obvious), but better to communicate in English as our default language even within Sweden for a host of reasons, some of which I listed in my original text.

Your argument of there being a narcissistic element in communicating in English because we could be read directly and credited with our ideas, rather than making our ideas known indirectly through local interpretations is a little hard to follow for me, especially given your previous argument about it being better to communicate with the French in French and so on. If that was true, wouldn't it be better to communicate to the French in Swedish and have our ideas be re-interpreted by Le Monde or something?

I don't think it's true. High-quality communication is as vital for business as it is for world peace, not least in an era of fake news and information warfare, where being able to read the original source in a language you can understand is incredibly valuable. And I think it's hard to argue that you raise the quality of communication by communicating with each other in different languages.

I do, however, buy your argument about the cultural value of caring for the Swedish language. Though keeping Swedish around as a second language will ensure the integrity of our cultural values sufficiently well. Especially in the light of the enormous benefits of switching our main language to English.

Just look at us now, me writing in English and you in Swedish. I'm sure you understand me just fine. But for non-Swedish speakers to understand your argument, they have to find someone to interpret your text (or resort to Google translate) while my argument can be understood just fine. That's not quite a fair debate, now is it?

Andreas Rågsjö Thorell

Webbredaktör

andreas.thorell@resume.se


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