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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