Why multilingualism should be a national priority作文

作文网 时间:2020-01-08 08:01:18

  By Domna C. Stanton

  Originally published December 28, 2005

  Theres an old joke that says: Someone who speaks three languages is trilingual; someone who speaks two languages is bilingual; and someone who speaks one language is American. That punch line might have been funny a few years ago, but in a post-9/11 world, Americans lack of language skills is no laughing matter. Its cause for great concern. Our linguistic deficit has created an increasingly acute national security and intelligence crisis. It has affected our ability to build a public diplomacy effort that can improve our standing and relations in the world, to address burgeoning security challenges and to understand the cultural nuances that can spell the difference between life and death at Baghdad checkpoints.

  After 9/11, the government discovered that we did not have enough speakers of Arabic and Urdu, of Farsi and Chinese, among a host of languages. As a result, hundreds of thousands of pages that could contain crucial clues to impending attacks remain untranslated in the depths of the FBI.

  And the federal agencies that have the largest foreign language programs - the Army, the State Department, the Foreign Commercial Service and the FBI - are experiencing shortages up to 44 percent in translators and interpreters in such key languages as Arabic, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Persian-Farsi and Russian.