Monday 11 June 2007

Lost in translation

So Ruth Kelly, the Blairite communities secretary, wants to cut translation (BBC News: Translation help 'should be cut'). This is touted as part of a drive to make all immigrants learn English, but it will in fact mean immigrants who do not speak good English are likely to be effectively denied help and access to many services. Especially when you consider that the funding for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes has been cut (Socialist Worker: "Demonstrating for Esol: out to stop language cuts")

One area in which translation is especially valuable is in legal proceedings, such as police interviews and court cases. Coupled with institutionalised Islamophobia and institutional racism in general, a lack of translation facilities - and foreign defendants not properly understanding the proceedings - is likely to lead to more miscarriages of justice. Ah well, I suppose it means the Establishment can lock up more innocent people without having to extend the period of detention without trial ...

Forcing the English language on people, through international imperialism and by repressive behaviour at home, is not new. The whole push for immigrants to speak English (it has been suggested they even speak English, rather than their native language, at home!), has echoes of the hated Welsh Not which was common in 19th Century Wales. The Welsh Not was hung round the neck of school kids who spoke Welsh, and the last kid to still speak Welsh was beaten. (I sure hope the Establishment today don't go as far as using child abuse to force people to speak English ...). Personally, I'd love to see a Welsh "Knot" around the necks of Ruth Kelly and all the other xenophobic bastards in the government and in the Establishment in general!

As I've said before, if the Establishment really want us all to start using English, they can start using it themselves. Instead of confusing us all with jargon and soundbites - such as "modernisation" to mean "selling out", "rationalisation" to mean mass redundancies and cutbacks, and "integration" to mean cloning!

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