I am writing this article, mainly for the native Anglophones: first for the expats, and secondarily for English-speaking people who live in their native country, and who sometimes also travel or intend to. The article would also be useful to other people. Although I am writing from a Christian perspective, the topic is not religious in itself, and people of other or no faith may benefit from it.

The gospels seem to not address the topic of languages and the morality of their use, if we are looking at single verses that one may pick and use. But that is also the case of other ethical topics, such as: banking, racism, animal rights, fetal rights, same-gender marriage, fair trade, workers’ unions, guns, the Roman Canon, Coca-Cola, artificial intelligence, climate change, travelling ethics and so forth, although, if we read the Bible books seriously, we may find a lot of principles that apply to most of these other topics.

In Genesis we read that it was God who made the split, from one primordial language (which we could call proto-Terra language), into several languages, at Babel. Later, at the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the Church, we could expect to see a return to the proto-Terra language. Instead we see God sanctify all the natural languages, and give them equal status.

When Saints Cyril and Methodius evangelised the Slavs, they were vocal against what they called « the heresy of trilingualism », that is the liturgical use of only the three languages which were present on Jesus’ cross, and although these missionaries’ mother tongue was Greek, they insisted on their right to celebrate the liturgy in Slavonic with the Slavic people. The use of Greek would have been personally convenient for them, but instead they cared for the convenience of their flock.

But languages are not just personal conveniences. They are part of God’s creation. Take the example, in botanics, of the rosaceæ family. God, by the natural selection, and the humans, by the artificial selection, gave us hundreds of sorts of apples, pears and so on. It would be wrong to unroot all the fruit-giving trees, either to replace them with one variety of the rosaceæ (the Starking Red Delicious, for instance), or even with the rosaceæ’s ancestor (a kind of medlar with its brown rosehip). Also, it would be wrong to sterilise all the animal species with the exception of cows and bulls, in order to extinguish them, under the pretext that the bovine are enough for all the purposes needed by humankind.

Every two weeks, one language becomes extinct. Even « big » languages like French and Italian are under serious threat of extinction. All the languages of the Earth have one mortal enemy: the English language.

The supplantation of all the languages by the English is operated by two factors: 1. the local USA-wannabes; 2. the Anglophones themselves.

In practice, all the official languages of Europe and Africa are treated as minored languages, while English is the one majored language. Probably, the only two exceptions are Wales and Malta, where the local languages have overcome English a couple of decades ago.

Our Public Services are forcing the English language down our throats. Our universities are doing the same; the terminology in our official languages is stuck in the past, because all the recent research is published in English instead of our languages. The academic organisms of our countries, that are financed for the protection of our languages, have engaged in a work of destruction thereof.

Needless to say that the small languages that lack even the full official status, such as Walloon, Breton, Occitan, Lombard etc., have lost any chance of survival.

In my most optimistic estimation, if nothing reverses the course of things, English will be proclaimed the first official language of Flanders and Brussels within the next 10 years; of the Netherlands within the next 15; of Italy within the next 20. And if Flanders and Brussels fall, the whole of Europe will follow, even Malta and Wales.

When English becomes the first official language somewhere, all the other languages of that territory die immediately. Of course, one will still use them for small talk for one generation, but by then they will already be dead.

And if the English language supplants the European languages, it won’t be the King’s English, but a multitude of dialects of Broken English or of Simple English. Finally the English will not only have killed the other idiomata; it will also indirectly kill its own self, as the parasite does when it kills its host.

Latin was thought to be THE global language at some point, and we all see what it has become. The « global language » argument, which I most often hear from Anglophones, is not better than racist axiomata from the mouth of the oppressor. In fact, language racism is also racism. And, as there were black slaves in the USA who thought blacks were worthless, likewise there are Europeans who think their native languages be worthless.

But you may say: Well, if a group of people are forced into speaking English instead of their native language, that’s wrong; however, if the people themselves have freely chosen to supplant their native language with English, what’s the problem?

When I was 13 years old, most of the girls (and the one gay kid, yours truly) of our grade thought that Mr G., our sports teacher, was handsome. Now one of the girls fell in love with him. She first liked to imagine that Mr G. would like her, then she indulged into imagining a common life with him. A couple of weeks afterward, we saw an engagement ring on the teacher’s finger, and the girl was all destroyed. Of course, she was not mature – we were still children, after all – to believe that the teacher would love her in return, and wait three years, until her legal age would allow them to get married. It would have been foolish – the least to say – of his part to have accepted the girl’s childish game.

So, when our European political leaders, as well as our universities, our advertising, our supermarkets, our goods suppliers etc., curse our national languages, and invite us to trample them underfoot, they are only linguistically immature people. And the Anglophone world should correct them, instead of encouraging them in their behaviour.

In most of the modern countries, women had no right to vote, no right to have their own property, no right to teach in schools or to have access to intellectual professions. (And some of them, by the way, believed in the patriarchal lifestyle!) But, in order for the situation to change, it was needed that some men – at least half of them – would concede the women equal rights. In the countries where LGBT people have equal rights, we needed our straight allies to fight for us, we needed them to grant us equal rights, and we needed them to have a conversation with other straight people. Every time a supposed minority (often a majority, in fact) lacks basic rights, that group is unable to fight alone for its own rights; the oppressed group always needs good allies on the other side of the fence.

So here we are, Anglophone friend. Are you ready to fight for our languages, or are you rather fond of your own little conveniences?

These are a couple of things you can do, if you want to help:

A. If you live in your homeland, and only come here as a tourist, you can do the following things:

1. When you travel, learn at least the basic sentences in the local language. Arriving in South America as a tourist, and not knowing basic small sentences like « Gracias » or « Obrigada/-o » and « Por favor », is unacceptable.

2. As a tourist, before you say something in English to the locals, start with a phrase in the local language, like (for instance, in French): « Excusez-moi! Est-ce que vous parlez anglais? » And finish with: « Merci beaucoup! Une bonne journée! »

3. Complain when you see the local languages are destroyed. For instance, on a flight from Charleroi to Carcassonne, if the announcements are made only in English, or in English as the first language, complain to the flight attendants, to tell them that French should have been used instead in the first position, and Spanish in the second position (Spanish is the European language the most spoken worldwide).

4. In your home country, learn either another language of the land (Spanish in the Southern part of the USA; French in Louisiana), or a language that has been eradicated by English: there are many of them in the USA; you have five Celtic languages in the UK. Or, if you feel too old for that, at least your children or grandchildren should be able to. If you learn Spanish or French, you may do it while having fun: on your favourite streaming platform, watch your favourite movies as usual, but dubbed in Spanish (Mexico) or in French (Canada), and with English subtitles. If you learn an indiginous language, you will have some motion pictures in Irish Gaelic, a few American/British films dubbed in Welsh, and nothing else in the other languages. But there are other ways of learning the local indigenuous language.

5. If you are Christian, promote church services (the holy Mass, if possible; if not, at least the evensong), in an endangered language of your homeland: Cornish, Manx, Gaelic, Norman if your are in the British Isles; an aboriginal language in Australia; a native American or Spanish or French in Northern America. Now one of the pillars of anglicanism is to celebrate the public prayer in an « understanded » language. It has never been requested that the liturgical language be the mother tongue of the worshippers. Prayer and Bible readings may be one of the most efficient means of learning a new language. And when you recite the Lord’s Prayer for the first time in a « foreign » language, that will probably be the first time in your life that you will actually pay attention to the words of the prayer, while in your native language you may recite it mechanically. The service in non-English language should take place on a regular basis: every Sunday evening, or every Friday evening, or else the first Saturday evening of the month, for instance. Keep the same prayers at each of these services, the same psalms and the same hymns, regardless of the liturgical season, at least until the congregation reaches a very good level in that language. The Bible readings may vary, at least the Gospel of the day, because many people know those passages almost by heart, and they will easily recognise them when they are read and written in the minored language. Instead of a formal sermon, have a sharing of the word, in which everyone may take the floor for a short time. If a regular service in the minored language is really impossible to organise, then insert some parts thereof in the main English-language church service of the parish, for instance: the Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic, the Creed in Cornish, the Gospel reading in Spanish etc. In the cathedral of Strasbourg, for instance, all the prayers are said in French, while all the hymns are sung in German. In Luxemburg they would do the same, but would add Luxembourgish for the Gospel reading and the sermon. Multilingual services are always a good option, when services in the minored language are difficult to procure.

B. If and when you become an expat, you may add the following:

6. Learn at least one local language, and use it with the locals.

7. Do not allow the locals to use English with you. In fact, by addressing you in English, they do you no favour. Even worse, they do not really think you to be smart enough, at least not as smart as them (otherwise, you should speak their language). How would you feel if other people did the maths for you, or explained to you basic things that you already know (how to use a toilet, how to use a tv…)?

8. Complain to the locals when they despise their languages. Complain if a product is labelled in English instead of their language (even if you have to use English to write the complaint). Do not hesitate to say: « I am a USA/British/Australian citizen, and I am telling you it is wrong to prioritise my language over yours. »

9. If you invent a new product, invent a name for it in the local languages, not in English. Encourage your indigenuous colleagues to do the same.

10. When you see bad English, as a play on words, like a barber’s shop named « L’Hair du temps », you should explain it is bad English.

11. Suggest to the locals many things in their own language, and explain to them that their language is not less beautiful, playful, meaningful than yours. You may show them some deficits of your language (for instance, « free » and « union », too polysemic, while French makes a distinction between « libre » ≠ « gratuit », between « syndicat » ≠ « union »).

12. Often the non-Anglophones who use English words the most have a bad knowledge of the English language. When, recently, a Belgian journalist wrote: « La SNCB vient d’acquérir des wagons de la toute nouvelle technologie EMU », he did not know that the English « EMU » means in French « automotrice », a type of rail material we have been using in Belgium for over a century! So when you see the locals using English words in the middle of a local-language sentence, ask them what they mean by, for instance, « footing », « fooding », « handy », or even « lay reader ».

13. If you like watching the news on TV, or have subscribed to a newspaper of your homeland, then it is time to switch to the local media, in a local language. Unfortunately, when some expats are more aware about the latest New York celebrity gossip than about the ongoing flood in their country of residence, that is a problem. Reading a very local newspaper, maybe with a dictionary, will help you learn the language, and know what is going on around you. Besides, I am sure that both Paris Seize and Het Belang van Limburg or even Bogotá al día will inform you when there is a new king in England or a new fire in California.

14. You might have decisional or influential power in the country where you live as an expat. Probably you have, more than any other local citizen, the power to change the policy of the foreign languages that are taught in schools. In a perfect world, each linguistic region of Europe would teach in schools, as foreign languages, another language of the same family and one language of a different family. Instead, Simple English is what the whole of Europe learns in schools. It is no wonder that, when some French-speaking Belgians and some Spanish-speaking Spaniards decided to build a rail station together, they agreed to make it in the shape of a « dragon flight », which one group mistook for a « dragonfly ». A tower of Babel in all its splendour! Had these people used their own languages, even with the help of a professional translator, there would have been no mistakes. However, some educated people still believe that English should be generalised in the teaching system, while other international languages should be banned from schools. As a native Anglophone, you can tell them that, finally, maybe it is more useful to learn Spanish in a French school, for a dozen reasons.

15. If you are partnered with a local or with a person of a different ethnic background than you, avoid using English with them. Use a local language instead. (I admit, it is difficult for a pair, who have used English as the language of their encounter, to switch to another language.) Nevertheless, teach English to your children, and, if your partner is an expat too, they should teach their language to your common children too. And even if, in private, you must use English with your partner and with your child, nevertheless use a local language when the whole family is gathered together. Impose the local language at the table, and when a child switches to English, do not hesitate to take the control: « ¡En castellano, por favor! »

You may think you are not gifted in languages. That might be true. Nevertheless, most people on this planet speak two or three languages, and the majority may be less gifted than you.

Speaking a new language doesn’t put bread on your table. But that is also true about many other things. In fact, no social justice puts bread on the table of the bystander or of the privileged. On the contrary, doing justice has always a price to pay. Nonetheless, the price you pay for someone’s justice is often inferior to the price they would pay if justice were not done unto them.

When we talk about the minority languages, the first argument that is invoked is culture. Let’s save the languages for the sake of the culture, they say. I say: let’s save the languages for their own sake. Just as we don’t need a utilitarian justification in order to preserve the vegetal and animal species from extinction, likewise we don’t need a utilitarian justification – be it culture – in order to preserve the languages. Although there is a link between the languages and the culture, one is not subordinated to the other. Language justice is social justice, while language racism is racism. Period.

Inclusiveness is a vain field if it destroys the languages. Curiously enough, some of the most vocal supporters of the uprooting of the local languages and their replacement by the English are among individuals and groups that otherwise fight for the LGBT inclusion. It is good and praiseworthy to fight for equal rights for the transgender persons, but if one forces the English word « transgender » down the throat of the locals, the locals will end up by believing « transgenderism » to be a foreign fashion or trend of the moment, and they will fight against it by nationalism. Instead, all the notions linked to inclusiveness, even the word « inclusive » itself, should be coined in the local languages (and sometimes those words already exist, but they might be archaisms that just need some fresh air).

Several USA politicians ask forgiveness (I would have said « they apologise », but apology is something very different from asking forgiveness) for the evils of the past, especially for the evils against the Black community and against the First Nations. It might be a good start, but if it is not followed by some acts of reparation, they are pointless. Building the sepulchres of the prophets and of the righteous is pointless, if we imitate those who killed the same (Matthew 23:29, Luke 11:47). The very least that the Anglophones of the USA should do is to learn, appropriate, and use some of the larger native languages, such as: Navajo, Cree, Cherokee etc. As we strive for other social achievements, efforts should be made, both on a personal and on an institutional level, for the recovery of those languages. You do not need a biological continuity with those tribes who lived some centuries ago where you live now on the land that was stolen from them (although you may possess, at least in part, such a genetic continuity), to take one of those languages as your own. You do not need to live a tribal lifestyle, in order to use a native American language in your postmodern everyday life.

On the contrary, native Americans of my age, who live in reserves and were taught their ancestral languages in schools, no longer wish to speak their first language, because they are attracted by the « American dream », which they see as incompatible with their native language. If those people saw Anglo-Americans speak Navajo or Zuñi, they would feel free to keep their language while aspiring to a postmodern life.

In Daniel 7:13-14, we have the eschatological picture of the multitude of the saved, and who adore Christ for eternity. The group is made up of « all languages ». While some characteristics such as gender and marital status seem to become irrelevant for the eschaton, the languages appear to be saved in God’s kingdom.


2 comments untill now

  1. S.Treseder @ 2022-09-30 12:52

    You make valid points but you are up against those who want a Globalist agenda with one language, probably English. The Cornish are struggling to keep our language alive, but there is a deliberate policy to flood our country with English incomers via uncontrolled house building. We have a Cornish NT but the Ch of ENGLAND (note that!) rarely uses Kernewek in services. As a retired Reader I know that. Now living in Spain, I try to use Spanish but often one gets a rapid fire response which is incomprehensible to someone of 85.
    One last point: ‘British’ English is jtself being destroyed by the corrupt versions used by the immigrants swamping us.
    Kernewek bys vykken

  2. Thank you very much for your comment! I feel sorry that the UK doesn’t make enough efforts for the other languages. In Spain, you can interrupt the person, and say: « ¡Despacio, por favor! » If they are switching to « Ingliss », switch again to Spanish: « Entiendo bien el castellano, pero soy una persona mayor. »