The power of language/the language of power

Imagine the scene: A meeting with senior British civil servants in Whitehall and an audience of 40 people. Thirty-five of them have English as their first language, but are able to speak a different language – let’s call it Amharic (a language with a totally different script) – to varying degrees of proficiency. Five of the audience – let’s call them Ethiopians – are apparently there to help the British government. The Ethiopians have Amharic as their first language and struggle to get beyond basic greetings in English. Despite the fact that only 5 of the 40 have Amharic as their first language, the meeting is conducted in Amharic, leaving the English speakers – the hosts – at a distinct disadvantage in understanding what is going on and making their points. You wouldn’t believe it would you?! What would the Daily Mail say?

Country bumpkin monster doves

Work has begun to get busy this week, after last week’s easing in to things. Lots of interesting stuff. Other than work … thursday night I went out with a couple of folks from DFID and the Foreign Office in London, for some Lebanese food and then friday night went out with the bloke from DFID. He used to live in Ethiopia in the earlyish 1980s, at the time of the Derg, so was excited to be here. Continue reading