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역시나. 영어로. Of course. In English.

Written By: daveski on November 12, 2008 3 Comments

이렇게 될 줄 처음부터 알았다. I just knew it would happen.

어제 버클리 대학교에서 열린 FLANC (북가주 외국어 연합회) 학회에서 어느 발표자가 스케쥴에 써있던 대로 프랑스어로 발표를 시작했다. 그런데 그렇게 하고나서 곧, 청중 중 한명이 그 방 안 공용언어인 프랑스어를 못 알아들은 채, 그 분은 손들고 발표자한테 부탁했다. The presenter at yesterday’s FLANC (Foreign Language Association of Northern California) conference in Berkeley started his presentation in French, just like it was written in the program. But soon enough, one of the audience members, apparently not understanding the designated ‘language of the room’, raised her hand and made the request to the presenter. Right in the middle of the presentation.

그리고 언제나 항상 그렇듯, 그렇게 되고 말았다. And then… it happened, just like it always does.

뭐가 어떻게 됐냐고? What happened, you ask?

그 것은, 다른 종류의 회의에서나, 비영어권 나라 대학교 교실에서, 그리고 미국에 이민 온 사람들의 가정에서 조차도 흔히 일어나는 비슷한 현상이다. Why, the same thing that happens so much at other kinds of conferences, all the time in university classrooms of “non-English speaking countries”, and so often even in the homes of those who have immigrated to this country.

세계의 여러 언어들이 영어로 된다. Other languages turn to English.

영어? 그래요, 원래 여러 나라 사람들이 모인 자리에서는 여러 나랏말로 대화가 진행돼야 한다는 게 상식인데…English? Yes, although you might think that in a place where people from many different countries are gathered together, they ought to speak in many different languages…

그 다른 여러 언어보다는… But, well, let’s just say that it’s just easier to speak in English instead of some other language that only some people speak. And it takes less time, less space, anyway. I mean, you know, over there in the European Union where they have 23 administrative languages, that’s a lot of resources spent on translating and interpreting, right?

Pretty soon, other languages are turned into objects, put on display. They can be used to describe social relationships that don’t have concise names in English, like 윗사람 아랫사람 관계, relations with one’s elders or juniors. Or they’re used to give key cultural examples, things that are hard to translate into English; in Korean, one might talk about and say “정” (I mean, “jeong”), but the conversation will be in English.  Or, as so often happens, other languages end up being used just to socialize after the ‘real’ business is done.

Of course, nobody necessarily wants this to happen. But, you know, 그냥, it just…does. I have to admit that I myself, as a native speaker of English who grew up in the U.S. primarily among monolingual English speakers, have benefited more often than not from this “turning to English”.

But it still makes me sad, sad that even at a conference like FLANC, attended by kindergarten through university instructors of foreign languages (of all things, 휴!), not only is the common conference language English. No, even during talks that are ‘supposed’ to take place in a non-English language, among professionals in that language, English slips through the back door easily, quietly, and surely, putting an all too familiar frame around what used to be an entire world in French, Korean, Arabic…

Until all that’s left are 어 few ㅂits and ㅍieces of what used to ㅂe another whole langua지.

(Jean Lee, Sarah Chee, Yooujin Abigail Park, Minsook Kim, Jeff Shieh, Mi-Sa Chou, and Dong Seon Woo에게 감사 곱하기 백만 드려요)

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3 Responses to “역시나. 영어로. Of course. In English.”

  1. Jean Lee on: 13 November 2008 at 6:19 am

    재미있게 읽었습니다. 언제나 우리 주변에서 일어나는 일이라서 영어를 쓰는것을 당연하게 생각하는게 사실입니다. 이렇게 글로 읽으니까 더 언어사용에 대한 그림이 뚜렸하게 그려지네요. 다른 언어들이 모두 영어에 주눅들어 고개를 들지 못하는것 같은 상황이 우리의 일상생활에서 영어를 쓰지 않으면 품위있고 학식높은 특정한 그룹에 끼지 못하는 것 처럼 되어버린것 같습니다. 외국어가 여기저기서 많이 들릴때 언어와 문화의 다양성에 감사 드릴 수 있을텐데 말입니다. 특히 외국어 연합회라면 더 아쉽군요. 전에 한국에서 영어가 아닌 다른외국어관련한 학회에 갔었는데, 그곳에서 아랍어, 인도네시아어, 폴란드어등 다양한 외국어로 진행되는것을 알고 인상 깊었던 기억이 있습니다. 영어 이외에 다른 많은 언어들에게 말해주고 싶네요. “홧팅!” 이라고.

  2. Veronica M. on: 2 January 2009 at 1:06 am

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but when there isn’t enough money in the state budget to pay for ENGLISH teachers, being outraged that other languages are taught in public school is moot. Not to mention it’s been shown in studies time and again that teaching a child two languages the majority of the time results in them not being 100% fluent in either. If you’re doing this for your resume/transcript/ volunteer requirements, why not pick a cause with merit? Unless this is the only one that’ll take you, then please, keep wasting your time.

  3. Youki on: 2 January 2009 at 4:36 pm

    re: Veronica M.’s post

    First sentence: makes no sense. daveski is not outraged that other languages are taught in public school (not even the opposite if I assume you made a typo). There is not even a hint of outrage in his post, it’s sadness that’s being communicated.

    Second sentence: no relevance to daveski’s post. He’s primarily talking about adults who speak different languages trying to communicate, and how English tends to dominate the situation. He’s also talking about English on a global scale, and how speakers of other languages tend to use English as a common language. Unless you’re suggesting that everyone in the world speak only English, your second sentence isn’t really responding to what daveski is saying.

    Third sentence: very unclear again. What is “this” referring to in “If you’re doing this for your resume…”? daveki’s post? Found in Translation (this blog)? daveski going to a FLANC conference? daveski speaking multiple languages? daveski being a language instructor? Foreign language instruction as a whole?

    Fourth sentence: resorting to personal attacks to try to make a point pretty much loses any credibility you could have possibly gained with a more dialogue-oriented comment. You’re writing from a place of anger, and while I respect that you feel very strongly about certain issues regarding foreign language instruction, I think that going around trying to pick fights isn’t a good way to get your point across. I don’t think you even really read daveski’s post, your comment shows a real lack of understanding of what he’s actually saying. It seems like you skimmed it and wrote a generic canned response to foreign language education.

    I seriously feel like there’s been a rip in the blogosphere space-time continuum and a comment from a different blog (a magical land where trolls live) somehow landed here. quick! where did we put the “DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!” sign?!?!?

    p.s. welcome to FIT!

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