10 January 2006

News From Afar, Yet Close to Home

We are, a nation defined by our unum, not our pluribus. The nation's great seal, proclaiming e pluribus unum, was adopted in 1782, five years before the Constitution was written and six years after the Declaration of Independence, with its declaration of equality of rights, made us, as Lincoln was to say at Gettysburg, a nation dedicated to a proposition.
George Will

A news article I spied today repeated what I have heard several times in various parts of the blogosphere with respect to integrating different cultures into a cohesive unit, this time focusing on the barrier of language:
At a more philosophical level, can there ever really be a "Community" let alone a "Union" when its supposed citizens actually speak only to others of their own nationality?
What is most interesting about this sentiment is not that it is being expressed.  As I said, I have heard it often before.  This time, however, it is the Europeans (Hungary in this case) who are continuing their path to understanding that a melting pot is much more harmonious than a salad bowl (as I delve back to 5th grade social studies).

Not only are they realizing that to be economically viable they have to integrate more, with the understanding that “the biggest barrier to the EU Single Market is language,” but that they really have no choice, as “Europe's language is emerging in a resoundingly "bottom up" way, through voluntary choices in school, media and exchange programs.”  For, while “English does not replace, but complements European mother tongues,” it “inexorably becomes Europe's lingua franca,” with “all the new member states preferring English, some 70-80% of EU documents are now produced in that funny language.”

Language standardization may seem trivial when the full scope of cultural integration and assimilation is considered, but it is still quite significant.  With a common language, even if it is not the only language, you can break down some of the communications barriers that would otherwise so easily isolate different segments of society.

On a slightly different note, still out of Budapest (yes, I enjoy surfing other nation’s news sources):

-The US is not the only country that is lawsuit happy.  US$94,000 for a successful surgery?

-Look, the US military is doing good things all over!  At least some media outlets report it.


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