5 responses to “Writers and Languages”

  1. Louise Perry

    Hi, Eric!
    Reading your article was a delight!
    I am also grateful for learning of the existence of Tocharian.
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    Louise

    1. Eric

      You’re quite welcome. And as the Tocharians might have said (or more likely might not have), have a kartse kaum!

      Eric

  2. Esther

    Sehr gut.

  3. Brian Gourley

    Hi Eric,
    I’ve just stumbled across this website as I’m writing my latest short story and I just want to say that your article is magnifique, fantastique, echt gut, wunderschoen agus iontach maith! The last bit’s Irish Gaelic FYI. I certainly agree with so much of what you have said as I am a linguist myself as well as a writer. My knowledge of French and German has allowed me to read Goethe, von Kleist, Balzac and Rimbaud in the original, and it’s really helped to inform my own writing and made me think about languages and the nature of language itself. What you say about US politicians not knowing other languages is striking,
    and this finds its echo in Britain and Ireland where the political classes don’t speak other languages either. In my honest opinion, this is a major reason for the ‘dumbing down’ of the Anglophone world (except perhaps bilingual Canada).

    Anyhow, great article. If you want to reply, feel free,

    Best wishes/Meilleurs voeux/Vielen Dank/Go raibh maith agat,
    Brian

  4. Eric

    Brian, thanks for your comments. Soon after I posted the item about second languages, I came across an essay by Paul Cohen in Dissent magazine on the decline of foreign language studies in our schools. He cites former Harvard prez Lawrence Summers, who in a NY Times op ed earlier this year argued that the study of foreign languages was a waste of time, given that English is now becoming the “global” language. It’s that sort of bone-headed thinking that got Summers canned from his position at Harvard, of course, and why he was such a disaster as Obama’s director of the National Economic Council. Cohen does a good job of dismantling Summer’s arguments and explaining why we all benefit from having more than one language. Unfortunately, Summers’ view is increasingly common. And as the Tocharians might have said (or more likely might not have), have a kartse kaum.

    Eric

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