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The importance of language

Lord Selsdon contributes to a recent debate on modern languages.

Lord Selsdon: The point that I am coming to is that we should make modern languages something that people enjoy doing in school because the lateral thinking that comes with them is extremely important. I have traded around the world and found that the misunderstandings are very great. I used to work in eastern Europe; the UK and the Ukraine are next door to each other in the alphabet, which is how I got involved in the Ukraine. Albania is the original name for Scotland—“Alba”, or the white people. The Norsemen went across the North Sea. I think that Greenland Norse died out in the 16th century, but the Norsemen also went down through the Black Sea and came right along the Mediterranean—probably they were Jason and the Argonauts—and arrived up in Ireland. When they arrived there, the Irish Scots, as they were called, said, “You can stay for a bit. We don’t have any women to give you, but we’ll lend you some”, and they went across to the Kingdom of Albanactus in the north, which was called Albania. When you start to talk to people about this, they get maps out and say, “Where did this word come from? Where did this language come from?”. I used to get mixed up between etymology and entomology, and anything else ending in “ology”, until I realised that the suffix was probably Greek. In the confusion of my own mind, I realised that languages are extremely important.
And:

I have had many dealings with Albania. The Albanians are highly intelligent people. As your Lordships will know, they have 50 per cent more letters in their alphabet than anyone else. I have argued with them that if you have to have a lot of letters you are not very intelligent. [Hansard]

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
katstevens
Dec. 14th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
It is very easy to imagine Lord Selsdon saying all the above while wearing a Santa Hat and fake beard.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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