Russia wants officials to be fluent in English

Saturday, January 15, 2011

LONDON - Russia wants all its newly-recruited bureaucrats to be English-speaking people from the next year and is taking measures to have at least one-fifth of its federal officials knowing a foreign language by 2020, a media report here said.

The Russian government is moving to address linguistic shortcomings by multiplying the number of polyglot officials, the Guardian reported Friday.

A strategy document unveiled this week says that by 2020, at least 20 percent of workers in state service must be fluent in a foreign language. More importantly, from next year all newly-recruited bureaucrats should already be competent in English.

It’s the latest sign of a subtle trend: although Russia has a difficult relationship with the English-speaking world, when it comes to speaking English it is a different matter, the report said.

English vocabulary has already made deep forays into Russians. In Moscow, for example, tineydzhery (teenagers) might go to a mall to shopitsya, depending on the dress-kod of the klub they’re heading for.

Many of the words in use spring from recently acquired financial and business terms that were unknown in Soviet times, such as steyk-kholdery (stakeholders), autsorsing (outsourcing), riteyl (retail) and franchayz (franchise).

The computer-friendly younger generation, meanwhile, knows all about apgrady (upgrades), fayrvoly (firewalls) and kiberskvoting (cybersquatting).

Yury Alekseyev, a professional linguist and the president of a “terminological committee” which issues recommendations for usage of foreign-origin words said he welcomed the effort to increase multi-lingual bureaucrats.

“I’d also like to see a more qualified defence of the Russian language from the influence of English,” he added.

Russians collectively winced when their sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, gave a brave but heavily accented speech in English at Russia’s World Cup bid in Zurich, Switzerland last month. Nearly a million viewers have shared his pain by watching the clip, called “Let mi spik from may khart, in Inglish”, on YouTube.

Filed under: Politics

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