Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why Americans have it easy and why they should be more humble

The Economist has an interesting debate on whether "the language we speak shapes how we think". The conclusion seems to be that this is indeed the case, at least to some extent.

If so, English-speakers have it so much easier to succeed in today's world since it monopolized by English and--perhaps even more importantly--by the English-language, Anglo-Saxon media (The Economist, Financial Times, WSJ, NYT plus all the movies, music etc etc).

English-speakers, mostly Americans, have shaped the world and the global debate in their own linquistic, cultural and philosophical terms. This gives them an unprecedented advantage over other nations, whose citizens need to not only learn to speak English as well as native speakers do, but additionally they also need to change the way they think to be understood properly in the new language.

The bottom line is that I understand the frustration of the French, who struggle to "express themselves" in so many ways. Americans, in turn, should acknowledge that some of their global achievements are not due to their inherent "genius", but simply to that fact that the world is stacked in their favor, including in linguistic ways.

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