Monday, September 14, 2009

Modern Times

[Djokovic, a Serb, arguing in English]
The finalists in the US Open are trilingual. All of them.

The runnerup woman, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, gave a post-match interview in unaccented English, then asked permission to speak in Danish, and then spoke in Polish as well. Given her name, her family are immigrants from Poland to Denmark. Her English is that of all educated middle class Europeans.

The winner, Kim Clijsters, spoke in barely accented English. Given her name, her home language is Flemish. Being a middle class Belgian it is certain she speaks fluent French as well.

Roger Federer speaks fluent, slightly accented, English. He is from Basel so his home language is Schweizer Deutsch. Having gone to Swiss schools, it is certain that he speaks both French and hoch Deutsch (high, or regular, German).

Juan Martin del Potro who is in the process of losing the second set to Federer as I write, speaks accented English. He is an Argentine and speaks Spanish. His family are immigrants so he speaks Italian as well.

What these kids all have in common is that they are middle class and from wealthy countries. If trilingualism is the norm among young first worlders, what does that say about education in the US?


  1. Anonymous12:47 AM

    Why, what do you think it says, Jacques? It says we are uneducated dolts, whose children will be living in a third world country, unable to converse with others. How many languages were you required to take in school?

  2. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Maybe in some sordid way, it may be related to anti-semitism and the treatment of Israel, I'm sure if you dig deep enough, you'll find some connection. Its all about the Joos afterall ain't it Jack

  3. My my my. Ol' Anonymous getting a bit testy about having his nose rubbed in it?

  4. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Nose robbed in your sense of self importance maybe.