Beyond Babel: English Belongs To The World

As a childhood immigrant to America who learned English as a “second language” and as an American Ambassador, I read with great interest a recent op-ed by Tallinn University Rector Rein Raud in Eesti Päevaleht.  Rector Raud argued for “some type of official status” for the English language in Estonia.  I think it already has such status.  Since my arrival in Estonia less than a year ago, I have been greatly impressed and deeply grateful for Estonians’ English language skills and their patience in using English with those of us who are guests in their country.  My sense is that my new Estonian friends like and use English not because they must, but because they want to.  That is how it should be.  Estonian is the beautiful and proud language of this country.  It has a unique place in the heart and soul of Estonia.  No other language can have a similar standing.  As fellow inhabitants of an ever smaller planet, we do each other the courtesy to learn at least a bit of each other’s languages as a sign of respect.  We have also been able to agree in increasing numbers to use English as a practical means of common global communication and as the default language for the globe.  English belongs to everyone. Inglise keel kuulub kõigile. Английский язык принадлежит каждому.

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2 Comments

Filed under American Values, Civil Society, education, U.S. -Estonian Relations

2 responses to “Beyond Babel: English Belongs To The World

  1. Sergei

    Yes, that’s right. It’s already has an a kind of official status in Estonia. More and more youngsters in Estonia, who aren’t familiar with Russian language. And one only way to communicate with different than estonians ethnic group over here is English. It works already, but not recognised as a fact.
    And no any way, how to fight against it, if you want. Estonia is a part of world community, and not isolated country. The modern world makes a pressure, if this word suitable for it, to all of us, who stubborn in not understanding of the world globalisation. Specially in Estonia. We may fight and protect of usage only one language over here. But we need to realise, that at least one third population, and all newcomers could not understand what do we want exactly. This is an security issue, I think. How could you understand emergency signs, if do they wrote in language, which you are not familiar.
    Some political and mentality reasons do not allow us to use one of the common on this territory languages to communicate between two ethnics groups. So let’s force to use English as the second official language to resolve our misunderstanding.
    And we need to protect and popularize Estonian language. Not making Special Language Forces, but providing free of charge language lessons for basic level. This is the first, what need to be in to-do plan for Government.

    Sorry for my runglish 🙂

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Beyond Babel: English Belongs To The World « AMBASSADOR MICHAEL C. POLT — U.S. Embassy Tallinn, Estonia -- Topsy.com

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