No worse in Wales 2

September 9, 2005

Roger Woods vividly describes the crisis in modern language teaching, but isn't it time to recognise the contact and overlap points between English and other languages?

I recently asked a Norwegian university student: "If I said 'put sneck on t'gyatt', 'there's some barrens laiken ovver theer', 'hoose, coo, hoond, beck'; would you know what I was talking about?"

He replied: "Amazing, how do you come to know words and phrases like these?"

I said: "We've been saying them since we were children."

"That's funny," he replied. "So have we!"

If the traditional language of Cumbria with its Norse roots could be used as a stepping stone for learning Scandinavian tongues, why can't English, with its rich and varied etymology, be used in a similar fashion for learning other languages, such as French?

Alan Butler
Whitehaven, Cumbria

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