The world we are living in is globally interconnected. COVID-19, which knows no borders, reminds us that the relations between us stop nowhere. To make our way in the new normal, we in Britain must reassess our place in an interconnected world. There is perhaps no better place to start this work than in our attitudes towards languages. We need to recognize that reports of the ‘triumph of English’ as a global lingua franca have been exaggerated. If we are to repair damaged relations and to nurture new ones, we will need to speak to other peoples in their languages, and to listen to what they have to tell us in their own words.
But are we Anglophones more multilingual than we know?
Richard Scholar is a Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University.
New Ideas for the New Normal is a series of newly commissioned video essays from leading researchers and academics at Durham University. Each ten–minute piece considers how we might live now in a post-pandemic world, offering hope and fresh new ideas across a range of disciplines.