Multicultural and Multilinguistic

I think it’s great blogging has become increasingly popular – you get to work on your writing skills, get to know other people and cultures that otherwise you probably wouldn’t have the chance to and get feedback on your thoughts and ideas – It’s all very positive.

I would assume that most countries have their own blogging platforms – and I’m assuming that because we have here, in Israel, where most blogging is obviously done in Hebrew. Now, I don’t have any official numbers or surveys, but most Israelis speak at least 2 languages, and many speak 3 and it’s not that hard to find someone who speaks 4 languages.

I’d say the most commonly spoken languages are English, Arabic, Russian, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Arabic is also the official language of Israel, but unfortunately, it’s not yet mandatory in all school systems. Not yet anyway. I think the ministry of education is trying to change that. (<= look at me skirting political issues!)

As for Russian, we had a number of big immigration waves from Russian speaking countries due to the right of return. Why immigrate? I guess a lot of it has to do with antisemitism and the hope of building a better future.

A lot of Israelis speak French as well. Some of them or their fathers immigrated from North-Africa (French colonialism etc.). Other French speakers obviously immigrated from France.

There’s also a very big Spanish-speaking community. During and after WWII many Jews fled to South-America. My father’s side of the family included. The same goes for Portuguese.

What about Yiddish you might ask yourself (or you might probably not). It was once the language spoken by Ashkenazi Jews (=European ancestry). Today it’s identified with Orthodox Jews, some of them are very closed off. I sometimes here it spoken in Jerusalem, but only on the rare occasions when I pass through their neighborhoods. It’s strange and funny at the same time, when I hear children talk in Yiddish, because I associate it with old people (my grandmother and parents speak Yiddish), as would a lot of secular jews.

There’s a lot more to say about the multiculturalism and multilingualism in Israel. I didn’t take into account a lot of variables and mentioned a few briefly (politics, history, nationalism etc.), the reason being It’s not my area of expertise. I started this post wanting to talk about my experience writing in a foreign language, and it turned into something completely different. I guess I just ran with it.

Does your country have a similar environment? Or does your country have more of a homogeneous society? I wonder how it influences everyday life in other places around the world.

I should also mention this is my first go at the Weekly Writing Challenge. Yay me!

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5 thoughts on “Multicultural and Multilinguistic

  1. I speak Dawg myself. The Girl is from Ireland, where Irish (Gaelic) is the official first language, but in pratice English is the first language. Now we (the Girl and I) are living in Rome, in a house with people whose first lanugage is French, Spanish, Igbo, and Japanese. And the official language is Italian. Occasionally things get confused. I find licking people’s hands is an internationally-understood method of communictaion. Not to mention my soulful, begging eyes. Or a simple bark. Please write on!

    • Oooh, that’s facinating. I studied Irish for a year as part of my BA in linguistics. I must say, it wasn’t easy. Your house sounds crouded, but loads of fun! So you say the hand licking works, eh? Maybe I’ll give it a go, it would definitely catch people’s attention!

  2. In Canada, our neighbor to the north, French and English are both official languages, which has led to some interesting results. French (a language I speak and love, by the way) became an official language in a largely English-speaking nation as a concession to keep French-speaking Quebec within the union. So when I visit British Columbia on the Canadian west coast, some 3000 miles from Quebec, I rarely hear anyone speaking French although all the information in the phone book is in both languages and every government office has to have employees speaking both languages.

    Here in the United States, Spanish is not an official language, but should be. We have such a large Spanish-speaking population that failure to make it an official language seems a bit unfair to me. There are still an awful lot of people out there who insist that immigrants from Latin America should learn to speak English just as our forebears from Europe and Asia did. It’s fine with me if they choose to communicate in their native tongue. I am trying to learn more of it to improve my own communication skills. But pretending that Spanish doesn’t exist and wishing it would go away is not the answer. I love our multicultural nation!

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