Re: Globalization of Culture: Language and Work Mobility

Randy Black says: Notwithstanding Christopher Jones’ desires to maintain a sense of community,  which I totally share with him, I believe that he may be missing another view of globalization. He says that local workers cannot compete with outsourcing because they 1) don’t speak other languages, or in reality may choose not to learn them, 2) cannot drop everything, divorce the wife, move to China, and so forth. The reality is that most Europeans speak two, three or more languages and do not have to get a divorce to get a job elsewhere. Mr. Jones should know that Russians don’t share his views, as they are studying the Chinese languages in numbers that are pretty impressive, along with other languages and skills. Europe needs to get its collective head out of the sand because Cameron Sawyer is correct when he states that the Russian economy will pass other nations in the near future in terms of GDP. Russia, once it gets corruption out of its system, may indeed pass the EU in terms of economic strength.
I disagree strongly with Mr. Jones’ concept that a worker cannot pick up and go where the work is. I would offer that the personal computer allows the worker to do exactly that, without the divorce, the physical move, or learning another language, beyond “geekspeak.” India certainly does not have a monopoly on tech support types. If anything, the tech support industry in India is helping the rest of the world. How? The legions of Indians answering the phone for Citicorp, Dell Computers, Verizon Communications and the rest are taking a huge load off the US and European workforce so that those people can do more important work. Whether you want to live in India, Moscow, Paris or Dallas, the personal computer allows you to work, period, if you choose to work. Regarding Mr. Jones’ position that illegal aliens are taking jobs that others want is, as we say in Texas, “an old dog that just won’t hunt.”
Legal and illegal aliens contribute to the local economy by doing jobs that no one else wants, in most cases. When is the last time you saw an illegal alien designing a building, working as a bank teller, driving a public bus, running a university, delivering the mail? Even the French import Brits seasonally to pick grapes. Why? Not enough French want, or are available for the menial seasonal job. In Oregon, aliens along with local high school kids have brought in the strawberry crops since the 1960s, due to the lack of local adults to do the work, or the distaste for such menial work. Plus the welfare qualification ritual in Oregon is so liberal that people make more on the public dole in Oregon so as to make real work unprofitable. Whether it’s the California citrus pickers, ditch diggers/construction workers in Texas, or maids and dishwashers in New York City, illegal aliens do work that others will not. Mr. Jones is concerned about prostitution in Paris and blames it on aliens. My goodness, prostitution as been a birthright in Paris for centuries. Does Rue Pigalle ring a bell?

RH: "Most Europeans speak two, three or more languages". A survey has shown that only half of Europeans have even a rudimentary knowledge of a language other than their own.

I rejected the statement that  "Most Europeans speak two, three or more languages". A survey has shown that only half of Europeans have even a rudimentary knowledge of a language other than their own. From the UK, George Sassoon comments: As a European (or rather, Britisher!) who speaks four languages fluently and bits of several others - enough to order in restaurants and get a new fan belt in Italy, for example - I agree with you above.  Very few people of my acquaintance have even basic French, the commonest foreign language in Britain.  As for the European Europeans, they are all too busy learning English as the international language to bother with any others than their own.  The only places they have more than one are border areas, or regions such as Alsace where French is the official language but everyone speaks German.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 22, 2004