Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Language as Power" in Recent News

Page 30 recently had three interesting posts pointing to articles that demonstrate the "language spread as form of cultural power" point I made the case for in my previous post.

Iran's national TV channel launches Spanish version
""As half of the world's population speaks Spanish we will start a network within the next few months," Ezatollah Zarqami, the head of Iran's state television network, IRIB, announced in Tehran.
IRIB broadcasts in Arabic, English and other languages – as well as Farsi. It has repeatedly been accused of illegally jamming broadcasts into Iran it dislikes, most notably of BBC Persian TV and the Voice of America in Farsi.
"This new Spanish network will have a major role in reflecting the ideological legitimacy of our system to the world," Zarqami told prayer leaders."
(This follows in the wake of similar efforts by Brazil and China to reach out and generate ties with the populations of other countries.)

Growing Chinese tourism shows shortage of qualified Korean-Chinese interpreters in South Korea
Visitors to Korea from China continue to increase every year, but insufficient interpretation is leading to fears of a drop in tourism quality for those visiting. According to a report issued today (4 October) last year the top visitors to Korea came from Japan at 3 million and China at 1.3 million. The number visiting from China is expected to be 1.7 million this year and reach 2.2 million in 2011. However, guides with certification in the Chinese language number just 2,818, which is just a third of those with certification in Japanese at 8,801 and half of those with certification in English, at 4,857.

Georgia mandates universal English lessons to leave Russian cultural orbit 
Over the next four years all school children will become English-speaking," Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said. "This means that English will be the language they know best after their mother tongue, Georgian. Nothing like this has been done in any of the post-Soviet countries."
Georgian TV would also broadcast more English-language films with subtitles in order to help older people get used to hearing English spoken, he added.
Analysts said that Georgia, which fought a short unsuccessful war against Russia in 2008, was keen to purge itself of its Russian cultural and linguistic legacy.
Russian was the second language and widely spoken in Georgia in both Tsarist and Soviet times. Many Georgians aged over 40 still speak Russian.

In a world shifting away from US-led, English-speaking dominance, language will continue to be source of tension, conflict, and political influence in the years to come.

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